Some of the honest pharmacists have lauded the state’s decision to invoke Maharashtra Essential Services and Maintenance Act (MESMA), 2011 against errant chemists and retailers, who are protesting by issuing threats to remain shut for three days from December 16 onwards.
The activists rued that the Food and Drug Administration authorities had not initiated action under MESMA against chemists, even after entering the strike five times over in the last year, the state had not booked the them under MESMA until now.
On Friday, the Medical Education and Drugs Department issued a notification stating that this step was been taken keeping in mind that the wholesalers and retailers are likely to go on strike. The notification which was accessed by dna stated that, “Any service connected with maintenance of public health including hospitals and dispensaries is an essential service for purpose of the said act and therefore, the service of medical shops are essential services for the purpose of the said act.”
It further goes on to say that the state government in public interest is prohibiting the strike with immediate effect. The notification has been signed by the joint secretary of the state, HR Suryavanshi.
YP Yajurvedi Rao, president of Society for Awareness of Civil Rights, said chemists have no right to deny a citizen of essential service like medicines and put lives of persons under threat. “If found guilty under MESMA, the accused can face imprisonment for uptil two years,” he said.
Around 55,000 chemists are expected to shut shops, according to the Maharashtra Chemists and Druggists Association (MSCDA), defecting pharmacists belonging to four associations, Akhil Bhartiya Pharmacists Welfare Association, Pharmaceutical Teachers Association, Hospital Pharmacists association and URP said that a total of 20,000 affiliated to their associations are not participating in the strike.
After a PIL was filed in HC, a committee was formed headed by the additional chief secretary of the state to resolve the issues. “We were suppose to have a meeting on Thursday, but the chemist association members did not turn up. The best way to resolve grievances is by meeting and negotiating,” said Mahesh Zagade, FDA commissioner.
Chemists, retailers please notify
Any service connected with maintenance of public health including hospitals and dispensaries is an essential service for purpose of the said act and therefore, the service of medical shops are essential services for the purpose of the said act. The state government in public interest is prohibiting the strike with immediate effect.