Medicine shops across India will remain close today as chemists are going on a 24-hour strike. An apex body of chemists has called the strike in protest against the stringent regulations on the sale of medicines. The All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) is also opposing online pharmacy citing that e-pharmacy poses a threat to their business. According to a senior member of AIOCD, they were asked to upload all information related to sale of medicines on a portal, which they said was not possible with the existing infrastructure. The online pharmacy will also encourage irrational usage of medicines and sale of fake drugs, the AIOCD member said. It has been learned that the AIOCD will also hold a demonstration at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.
Meanwhile, Odisha government yesterday had asked authorities of medical college hospitals, state run hospitals and others to keep essential medicines including live saving drugs in readiness to meet the demand, Health and Family Welfare secretary P K Meherda said. There are above 17,000 medicine stores in the state. The medicine stores under the Utkal Chemists and Druggists Association have extended its support to the strike.
Earlier on February 9, AIOCD had demanded that the proposed amendments to Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1940 and permission to online sell of medicines be put on hold till the Government draft is changed. It had submitted a memorandum to the Union Health Ministry in this regard.
AIOCD President Jagannath Shinde had said that said decisions related to health of citizens should be taken with care. Online sell of drugs should not be looked from the perspective of discount as long term and unrecoverable rights and security of customers should also be taken into consideration, Shinde said, adding that the Centre has fixed profit of drug sellers and selling medicines at further discount raises doubts about their quality, he said.
In November last, AIOCD had postponed its proposed nationwide strike on November 23 after Union Health Ministry assured it that it will look into the issue of online sale of medicines and other matters raised by the group. (AIOCD), which has about eight lakh members involved in sale and distribution of medicines, had given the strike call to push for action against “illegal” e-pharmacies, according to PTI.