The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and chemists are once again at loggerheads in Maharashtra over the issue of non presence of pharmacists in chemists shops and FDA’s action against the same.
The Maharashtra State Chemists and Druggists Association (MSCDA) has yet again announced to go on strike for three days starting from December 16.
The chemists are protesting against the alleged harassment and raids by FDA regarding selling of drugs under the supervision of registered pharmacist and billing for every drug sold. Though these rules are not new, but the strict implementation has provoked MSCDA to go on strikes.
Despite many protests and shutdown by chemists in the recent past, FDA is firm on its stand.
JS Shinde, president of MSCDA, said that that the raids and fines imposed on chemist shops had made it impossible for the chemists to survive and therefore many are now willingly handing over their licenses to FDA.
“Lack of trust from the government’s side and stringent actions has brought issues to a head. In the past too, we held such protests and had several discussions with the state and the FDA, but to no avail. The advisory committee formed to look into our grievances has had one meeting in one year,” he said.
About the upcoming strike, timed perfectly around the winter session of state assembly, Shinde added that 55,000 chemist shops will remain shut for three days, though they claim to have made necessary arrangements for emergency cases.
“We will be holding a morcha (agitation) in Nagpur on December 18 while the state winter assembly will be on,” Shinde added.
Vijay Changedia, secretary of Chemists Association of Pune District, said, “It becomes difficult not only for the chemists but also the citizens if the shop is closed for an indefinite period. FDA should give warning before issuing a stop sale notice. In small villages, where there is only one chemist shop, imagine what people go through if the shop is closed. Moreover, they are expected to have bills of every drug sold, which is not possible.”
FDA commissioner Mahesh Zagade said, “These rules are made to benefit the citizens. Chemists who don’t want to adhere to the rules will have to face the heat. They should understand the issues than protest. In 70 per cent of the cases, there are no pharmacists in the shop. Chemists say that there are no pharmacists available to be recruited, which is untrue as there are more than thousands of pharmacists passing out every year,” he added.