Over 800,000 chemists across the country have decided to shut shop on Tuesday to protest against the government’s e-platform plan to regulate the sale of drugs.
The platform is being set up to ensure supply of quality drugs and curb anti-microbial resistance, but chemists are opposing the move. Under the plan chemists will have to upload details of all medicines purchased and sold on the e-platform and will have to pay a transaction fee to support cost of running the system.
MedPlus, which runs 1,400 outlets in southern and eastern India, has said it will not participate in the strike and “will try and keep all stores open.”
There are other indications too the strike may not get full support. Around 600 chemist store owners in Tamil Nadu will wear black bands in protest but will keep their outlets open.
Maharashtra Food and Drugs Administration commissioner Harshdeep Kamble said he expects 4,000 stores out of a total of 45,000 in the state to remain open. “I am not saying there will be no problem but we are prepared to tackle it. Instructions are being issued to 24-hour chemists to keep them open. Assistant commissioners in each district will be monitoring the situation,” he said.
“We are opposed to the government proposal to make the e-portal mandatory for chemists. Also we are against the plan to charge chemists one per cent of the cost of medicine for maintenance of portal,” Shinde said. He added that uploading details of purchase and sale daily will be difficult in rural areas where internet connectivity is poor.
Details of medicines sold will be uploaded in the Chemists will also have to uploaded on the platform and these would include details like doctor’s registration number. The AIOCD is against the proposal too. “There are many doctors who practice Ayurveda, Homeopathy and Unani who prescribe allopathic medicines. This is a serious problem and if medicines are denied on such prescriptions the people in rural areas will be deprived of medicines,” Shinde said.