Chemists hold patients to ransom, warn of strike

Saturday, 7 December 2013 - 11:35am IST | Agency: DNA

Chemists have threatened yet again that medical shops in Maharashtra will remain closed for three days in a statewide strike. Maharashtra State Chemists and Druggists Association (MSCDA) has called for chemist shops to stay shut from December 16 to 18.

The association is protesting against the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) crackdown on chemist shops operating without qualified pharmacists. There are about 55,000 chemists in the state, of which 7,000 operate out of Mumbai. However, contrary to claims by MSCDA, more than 4,500 chemists will defy the strike and keep shops open.

“We are not participating in the strike as the profit-mongering chemists are going on strike. They have rendered a bad name to the profession. Moreover, they threaten individual chemists, who don’t want to participate in the strike, to shut shop, which is not fair,” said Umesh Khakke of Union of Registered Pharmacists.

FDA officials will initiate crackdown on chemists who keep their shops shut as their services fall under the Essential Services Maintenance Act, 2011, which makes it mandatory for them to make medicines available to people and denies them the right to strike.

“We have not received an official communication about the strike from chemists. However, we’re taking all requisite steps so that people do not suffer,” said Om Sadhwani, joint commissioner, FDA.

On November 11, when city chemists warned of a strike, officials cracked down to ensure that most shops remain open, by filing complaints against errant chemists.

“Upto 20,000 medical shops may not participate in the strike. However, the minions feel threatened, that if they don’t participate, they won’t be supplied with medicines. ,” said Khakke.

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