When 24-year-old Pradnya Gaikwad was prescribed two doses of a medicine over two days, she sought to buy four pills; but she ended up buying an entire strip of 12 expensive pills.
For, the chemist concerned refused to sell the medicine as prescribed. “The chemist said he can’t retain half the packet,” said Gaikwad.
Such forced sale of excessive medicine is against the Maharashtra state government regulations which state that chemists need to sell even one tablet, if required.
“No chemist can refuse to dispense what a patient seeks,” said Mahesh Zagade, commissioner of the Maharashtra Food & Drug Administration (MFDA).
Typically, doctors prescribe small doses of medicine to observe their impact. Gaikwad’s prescription was changed after two days. By then, it was too late to return the unused pills to the chemist.
Errant “medical stores will face stringent action such as cancellation of licence for a few days to permanent cancellation. Also, if the situation is grave,the FDA can also go for prosecution”, said Zhagade.
Over the last few months, the MFDA cancelled 3,500 licences citing various irregularities.
Maharashtra has 50,000 drug stores.
Some owners of medical stores told Zee Business that most drug-makers do not take back unused strips of medicine.
Not true, said a top pharma company based in Mumbai. “If a medical store preserves the batch number and the expiry date of the drugs, we will always take the medicine back.”
So, would sales of drugs in small amounts and large-scale return of unused medicine impact revenues? Leading pharma companies were not immediately available for comment.
A pharma sector analyst said, “Chemists insist on selling a full strip of medicine only in the case of products like Rentac or Crocin that carry a price tag of `15-20. High-value medicines or expensive antibiotics always come in prescribed numbers. They cannot be over-prescribed or over-consumed.”
So, impact on pharma sales may be minuscule given flexible packaging for high-value drugs, said Bhavika Thakkar, assistant vice-president, The Market Financial Intelligence. – Zee Business,
—with inputs from Ashish K Tiwari