Kerala could run out of vital life-saving drugs and other medicines by the end of the month if the drug manufacturers do not extend the credit period, officials of the All Kerala Chemists and Druggists Association (AKCDA) told FE.
The association, which has a membership of 15, 000, including retailers and wholesale distributors, said with demonetisation, they are unable to conduct business transactions with stockists and drug manufacturers. “Retail chemists are allowed to accept the demonetised R500 and R1,000 notes from the customers against sales with valid prescription, but the wholesalers or drug companies do not accept the notes. The problem is compounded in the rural areas where majority of the retailers have accounts only with the cooperative banks,” Thomas Raju, general secretary of AKCDA said.
“With over-the-counter sales declining by almost 50 %, the retail shopowners are even finding it difficult to honour the post-dated cheques issued to the manufacturers against the supplies made during the month of October and early November,” he added.
Association officials said majority of the shops in rural areas have cash transactions and replenish stocks on a daily basis. “Majority of the medical shopowners own and operate accounts in cooperative banks where the staff are familiar and it is easy to get loans. They are unable to operate their accounts or even deposit the money they have in hand,” Raju said. He warned that stocks in the smaller shops in far-flung areas are dwindling and without any help, the shops would run out of medicines very soon.
The association has written to the state government to address difficulties faced by them due to demonetisation. In a letter addressed to health minister KK Shylaja, the association has sought the government to direct manufacturers of pharmaceutical medicines to extend additional credit facility of 21 days for maintaining the supply chain of life saving drugs in view of possible shortages.