Maharashtra’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday filed a First Information Report (FIR) against Snapdeal Chief Executive Kunal Bahl and the company’s directors at the Panvel police station in Raigad district, in connection with the sale of prescription drugs online.
The action was taken based on FDA’s search of Snapdeal’s office in north Mumbai on April 16. The FIR has been registered under the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954.
The offences under which the FIR has been registered are cognisable and non-bailable.
“Jasper Infotech (which owns Snapdeal.com) entered into agreements with dealers all over India to supply medicines exhibited on Snapdeal.com and to collect the sale proceeds,” FDA Commissioner Harshadeep Kamble told Business Standard.
“They also displayed 45 drugs with objectionable claims, which contravenes the provisions of the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act,” he added.
A Snapdeal spokesperson said, “In this matter we are assisting the FDA team and we will continue to do so. We have already delisted the products and said sellers and also stopped payment, in addition to providing all information to the FDA team as required by them.”
Further, the spokesperson noted, Snapdeal.com was an online marketplace that connected buyers and sellers to provide the widest assortment of products. “The sellers selling online are retailers and distributors, small and medium business and large brands who typically sell offline, too. Snapdeal acts as an intermediary between the seller and the buyer of the products listed on the platform. Though we invest significantly in educating sellers on engaging in fair and safe sales on the platform and consequences of selling inappropriate products, at times, sellers end up listing such products. Upon being notified of any such products, we delist the products and take appropriate action against such seller,” the spokesperson said.
Kamble said the drugs involved included sildenafil citrate tablets, which are to be sold on prescription by urologists, psychiatrists, endocrinologists and dermatologists. He added indiscriminate use of such drugs might lead to harmful effects.
According to Kamble, despite a written commitment to FDA, Snapdeal continued to offer, exhibit and sell drugs, including emergency contraceptives i-pill and Unwanted-72. He said he had asked some people to buy these drugs from Snapdeal and they got the delivery on April 24.
“Only a licensed retailer can offer for sale Schedule H drugs and that, too, on the basis of a prescription by a doctor,” Kamble said.
The Maharashtra FDA has written to the Drug Controller General of India for directions. Communication has also been sent to state drug controllers.