Around 8.50 lakh retail chemists, druggists and pharmacies on Tuesday went on a daylong strike all over India in support of their various demands, aid All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) President Jagannath Shinde here. A total 8.50 million employees are directly involved in the retail pharmacy business, he said adding that 72,000 of the striking retailers are from Maharashtra. The strike is in protest against the government’s decision to make e-portal registration for chemists-druggists mandatory, including uploading all details of medicine sales, etc, and to press for long-pending demands of the industry, Shinde said.
“Over 60 per cent rural India has no qualified doctors, and now the government has stipulated sale of medicines only through a prescription by a qualified medico, as one of the conditions in the e-portal. This is not possible or practical,” Shinde told IANS. More than 40 per cent chemists in rural areas would have to shut down their business, he said. He said presently, Ayurvedic, Homoeopathic and Unani doctors combine allopathic medicines to provide timely treatment to the rural masses, but that will not be permitted under the new rules.
“There is lack of adequate infrastructure in mofussil areas to follow these stringent regulations… It will lead to mayhem in rural India… Sick patients won’t get their medicines on time, the chemists will be targeted, there will be violence and even their shops may be burnt,” Shinde warned. Moreover, in rural India there are problems of proper internet connectivity and power supply which make it difficult to adhere to the new rules, Shinde said. He added that these problems should have been resolved before imposing the conditions. Since the past one year, despite representations to the government, there has been no response, necessitating Tuesday’s nationwide one-day token strike. However, he said if the authorities still fail to respond, the AIOCD will consider an indefinite agitation after a couple of months.