Chemists in Maharashtra have decided to observe a three-day shut down from December 16 against the "draconian" interpretation of the Drug & Cosmetics Act, 1940 by the Maharashtra Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Chemists' associations will protest the FDA's crackdown on chemists operating without qualified pharmacists.
There are around 55,000 chemists in Maharashtra of which 7,000 operate in Mumbai. "We are going ahead with our three-day strike from Monday to protest against FDA's harassment of chemists across the state and not fulfilling their earlier assurances," Maharashtra State Chemists and Druggists Association President J S Shinde told PTI here today.
Nearly 55,000 chemists will observe the shut down, he said.
Chemists are against the Maharashtra FDA's new rule under which the patients would have to get new prescriptions every time they visit a chemist's shop to purchase regularly used medicines, to be taken for life time diseases like asthma, blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis.
If patients do not have valid prescriptions written by qualified doctors, chemists will not be able to dispense the medicines, as per the new rule.
FDA had asked chemists to sell medicines on prescriptions that fall under schedules prescribed by the Centre.
Patients would have to get prescription only from qualified allopathic doctors to get allopathic medicines, chemists claim.
Patients from slums and interior areas would suffer the most as there are hardly any allopathic doctors practising in these areas, the Retail & Dispensing Chemists' Association said in a statement here.
In rural areas, the problem will be more pronounced as in a radius of 20 km, there are hardly any qualified doctors, the release said.
Though prescriptions written in hospitals sometimes are not as per FDA's new norms, on humanitarian grounds, chemists dispense medicines to patients. Sometimes, sensing an emergency at late night, chemists dispense medicines without looking into whether patient have proper prescriptions or not.
According to the Maharashtra FDA, the law has to be followed even at the cost of the patient's life and this may drastically affect health care, the Association said.
If the FDA doesn't stop implementing the law in a "draconian" manner without looking into practicality, chemists will be forced to go on an indefinite strike, it said.