New Delhi, Dec. 4 -- The government has ordered a halt to online drug sales as it works on rules to regulate the sector, in a setback for companies that have ploughed in millions of dollars to open up a new business arena amid lack of regulation.

In a 28 November order, drugs controller general of India (DCGI) V.G. Somani directed all states and Union territories to prohibit sale of medicines through unlicensed online platforms till draft rules to regulate e-pharmacies are finalized and put in place.

The DCGI's letter, seen by Mint, cites a Delhi high court order dated 12 December 2018 in a case filed by dermatologist Dr Zaheer Ahmed. The letter was sent by the DCGI to all state drug regulators and the Union health ministry for their in...