Doctors can prescribe high-end drugs to patients, they cannot hoard them.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has started cracking down on doctors who store medicines in bulk in their clinics and later sell it to patients. According to the FDA, doctors can store medicines in a limited quantity as per the requirement of patients.
Since they cannot charge patients, doctors generally include it in their consultation fees.
FDA has dug out information from wholesalers about doctors who buy antibiotics in bulk. FDA officials have found that doctors later sell these medicines to patients. This is in violation of the Drug and Cosmetics Act and FDA inspectors can even file FIRs against such doctors.
Then there is the issue of storage. "High-end drugs prescribed by doctors need proper storage, but some doctors do not maintain the standards. Nursing homes or hospitals can separately open chemist shops with proper licence from the FDA but cannot store drugs in bulk," an FDA official said.
In Maharashtra, there are 120 FDA inspectors, 70,000 chemists and 300,000 doctors. "We can't visit every doctor... so we have contacted wholesalers to find out about doctors buying medicines in bulk and then raiding their clinics," the official said.
Mahesh Zagade, FDA commissioner, said: "We are doing random checks... Some doctors stock medicines in bulk. Many don't have proper storage facilities. The rule is a doctor can stock medicine according to patients' requirements. We are doing this in public interest."
Dr Shivkumar Utture, member of the Maharashtra Medical Council, said: "According to Medical Council of India guidelines, doctors cannot conduct business of medicines. They can only stock medicines as per requirement of patients. FDA checks are fine but drug inspectors should keep in mind that the workload varies from doctor to doctor. So, the stock volume too will vary."