As the chemists across Maharashtra are gearing up to shut shop for three days from December 16, officials of the regulatory authority Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that the chemist associations are spreading rumours that they are being vindicated by drug inspectors. “There are rumours floating around that FDA wants every drug to be sold on prescription and that the chemists are being victimised,” said Mahesh Zagade, state FDA commissioner.
The associations are protesting against FDA’s crackdown on chemist operating without qualified pharmacists. There are around 55,000 chemists in Maharashtra of which 7,000 operate in Mumbai. Contrary to the claims made by Maharashtra State Chemists and Druggists Association (MSCDA), more than 4,500 chemists will keep their shops open.
Zagade clarified that the chemists were only being asked to sell those medicines on prescription that fall under the schedules prescribed by the Centre. “Chemists are being booked only if they violate norms of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act which entails that a qualified pharmacist having a diploma or a bachelor degree in pharmacy should dispense drugs in a shop. Furthermore, we are asking them if those medicines on which it is mandatorily noted that they should be sold on prescription are being sold according to the rules,” he said.
The FDA officials will initiate a crackdown against chemists who keep their shops shut as their services fall under the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act, 2011, which makes it mandatory for them to make medicines available and denies them any right to strike. “Also, medicines will be available in those three days in chemist shops of government hospitals and private hospitals,” said an FDA official.