NA deputies propose sale of OTC drugs on e-commerce platforms

The majority of members in the NA Standing Committee of Social Affairs proposed that e-commerce businesses can only sell over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.

OTC drugs can be sold on e-commerce platforms

Members of the NA Standing Committee of Social Affairs voiced their opinions on the amended Law project supplementing several articles of the Pharmacy Law, which was submitted to the committee for comments yesterday afternoon.

Through preliminary examination of the project, the Standing Committee of Social Affairs noted that the draft law amending drug and medicinal raw material business activities includes trading of drugs and medicinal raw materials in e-commerce platforms.

Accordingly, the project amends the prohibited behavior of doing pharmaceutical business at places other than registered pharmaceutical business locations. The project supplements regulations on trading, buying and selling activities in e-commerce platforms, rights and responsibilities of pharmaceutical business establishments on e-commerce platforms.

The Standing Committee of Social Affairs commented that legislating regulations on trading drugs and medicinal ingredients by e-commerce method is necessary to adjust problems that have arisen in practice and legal gaps. However, because this is a new issue, the draft law needs to provide more specific provisions on this content; for instance, it is necessary to determine in the law project which drugs can be traded and the forms of business to be carried out in e-commerce platforms and those who can participate in buying and selling to create transparency of regulations.

Regarding drugs sold via e-commerce, there are still two different opinions. The first type of opinion suggests that e-commerce business regulations only apply to non-prescription drugs; however, other people proposed to regulate the application of e-commerce business for both non-prescription and prescription drugs to ensure people's access to diverse sources of drugs.

Regarding this issue, the majority of members in the Standing Committee of Social Affairs agree on the first type of opinion, because according to them, medicine is a specific product that directly affects the lives and health of people, while trading in e-commerce platforms is a new business method that it takes a long time to test and thoroughly evaluate policy effectiveness.

At the same time, the government necessarily study effective control tools to ensure that the purchase and sale of drugs on e-commerce platforms is safe for users at a reasonable price. Moreover, responsible agencies need to apply measures to link their data with other agencies to effectively monitor the sale of drugs and prescription drugs.

Regarding regulations restricting the types of e-commerce used in pharmaceutical businesses, the draft law stipulates that e-commerce transactions on medicines can only be carried out on e-commerce trading floors and applications for e-commerce sales.

The agency which is responsible for drafting the law project was assigned to continue reviewing to ensure the completeness and coverage of all electronic means and electronic environments in accordance with the law on electronic commercial transactions as well as the feasibility for all forms of pharmaceutical business.

In addition, some people suggested that the government must add establishments' responsibilities that own electronic trading floors and websites where businesses trading in drugs and medicinal ingredients register to deploy their business activities.

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