Chemists and Druggists in AP to shut down shops for one day to press for their demands

Our Bureau, HyderabadFriday, May 10, 2013, 12:35 Hrs  [IST]

The All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) in Andhra Pradesh has declared a one day strike on May 10 in State demanding higher trade margins in the upcoming new drug policy.

As the new drug policy is in the final stages, the chemists and druggists have decided to shut all the pharmacy outlets across the State for one day and put pressure on the government to increase the trade margins at least 10 per cent for distributors and 20 per cent for retailers on maximum retail price (MRP).

There are about 7.5 lakh chemists and druggists across the country. Apart from Andhra Pradesh all the members of AIOCD have decided to go on strike across the country on May 10. In a note issued by the organisation said that it had declared an agitation against the unjustified government policies and its impact on the traders.

Apart from observing one day bandh, the AIOCD also have plans to take out a march to all the district Collectorates & FDA offices to express their protest.

With this bandh, all the medical stores in Andhra Pradesh will be closed. This will create great inconvenience to the patients. As this is a serious issue, the Andhra Pradesh Drug Control Authority (APDCA) had issued a circular to all its directors, assistant directors and inspectors to see that no medical shop is closed at the govt hospitals. The APDCA has also urged the chemists and druggists association to withdraw strike call and keep open the medical shops for the needy patients.

“We have issued a circular to all our officers to see that medical shops are kept open at least at the govt hospitals so that the patients are not subjected to inconvenience and sufferings due to non availability of medicines,” said Dr BL Meena, director general of APDCA.

Opposing the AIOCD’s move the All India Druggists and Chemists Officers’ Confederation (AIDCOC) has lamented against the traders demand pressurizing the government to increase the profit margins. “Already they are earning huge margins (sometimes 100 to 3000 per cent) on generic drugs and more than 20 profit margins on branded drugs. Their demands are against the interests of the general public and the patients. Never in the history had any association had asked the government to make a law or legalize standard profit margins on their products. As already the traders and manufacturers are earning huge profits on drug sales it is improper for the government to consider their demands,” said Ravi Uday Bhasker, deputy director, APDCA.

“We are more than 7.5 lakh members across the country engaged in retail & wholesale pharmaceuticals trade. Our members play a key role in ensuring availability of medicines in the nook and corner of the country informed Dr Ghisulal Jain, president of Andhra Pradesh Chemists & Druggists Association.

The prominent demands AIOCD are to maintain the trade margins of medicines and not to reduce it in the forth-coming Drugs (price Control) Order 2013. Another important demand of the association is to resolve the long pending issue of shortage of pharmacists and suitably amend Rule 65(15)(c) of D&C Rule to permit the partner/proprietor as qualified person to dispense the medicines. This demand totally unjustifiable, there is large number of pharmacists available but due to lack of jobs they are roaming on the roads. Earlier the situation in 1960 was different and there was a serious dearth of qualified pharmacy professionals. Now in 2013 the scenario is totally changed. We just can’t allow the same old excuses, we need to move forward and bring in strict policy to ensure the drugs are dispensed by qualified personnel at the medical shops,” said Uday Bhasker.

The third important demand put forward by the AIOCD is to give relief under Section 19 of the Drugs & Cosmetics Act 1940, to the innocent dealer who may have acted with bonafide intentions, if he submits valid documents of transactions. Administration should not prosecute him till his guilt can be proved.

The fourth demand of the organisation is foreign direct investments (FDIs). The year demand in that FDI should not be permitted in distribution and retailing of medicines as there are families of 25 lakh (more than one crore population) employees are subsisting on this livelihood through employment in this sector.