A division bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday stayed a single-judge order banning the sale of medicines online, reported Bar and Bench.

The interim stay will remain in place until the Centre notifies rules to regulate the online sale of medicines, according to The Economic Times. The High Court clarified that the judge’s order directing the central government to notify the proposed Drugs and Cosmetics Amendment Rules, 2018, by January 31 remains in force, reported Business Standard. The move came after e-pharmacy companies affected by the ban filed an appeal.

On December 17, Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana had passed the ban order while hearing a petition filed by the Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association, which sought to prohibit websites from selling drugs until the Centre enforced a legal framework for online sales. However, e-pharmacy companies contended that a sudden ban would inconvenience people dependent on online sale and home delivery of medicines.

Pradeep Dadha, founder and chief executive officer of online medical store Netmeds, was positive about the division bench’s stay order. “As part of the observations, the bench recognised that mechanisms are in place to prevent any real abuse of process by the online pharma sector,” he said. “One of the most pertinent observations made was that the central government is not opposed to online pharmacies, and is actively putting in place systems for regulating the sales.”

Besides the Madras High Court, the Delhi High Court on December 17 had ordered a stay on the sale of drugs and prescribed medicines by online pharmacies. In September, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had published a set of draft rules on the sale of drugs by e-pharmacies in order to regulate the online medicines market. The draft rules said that online pharmacies will have to register with the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation and obtain a trade licence to exhibit, stock, and sell drugs.