As part of an agitation by the All-India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) against the Centre’s plan for online supply of medicines, a section of pharmacists in Kerala will go on a day’s strike on May 30.
A.N. Mohanan, national vice-president of AIOCD and State president of the All-Kerala Chemists and Druggists Association, told The Hindu that a large number of medical shops in the State would remain closed on May 30. There were around 19,000 wholesale and retail drug vendors in the State, including the Neethi medical shops.
He said the Union Health Ministry had recently revived its earlier plan of e-pharmacy which would enable anybody to purchase medicines online. “This is an absolutely wrong idea in a country like India where it will have long-term repercussions,” Mr. Mohanan claimed.
The nationwide strike aimed to highlight the serious consequences of the e-pharmacy initiative and educate policymakers and politicians on its dangers, Mr. Mohanan said. The initiative would also harm the jobs of lakhs of pharmacists and medical shop assistants.
“Though online purchase of medicine is legal in advanced countries, in our country with low computer literacy and extremely weak regulation of the drug industry, the initiative will have serious consequences for public health,” he said.
Just for instance, he contended, since liquor availability in Kerala had drastically declined, people would opt for psychotropic dugs which would be available easily once the online system came into being. Fake doctors’ prescriptions and spurious drugs would dominate the drug scene, he said.
He said Health Ministry officials had decided on the e-pharmacy unilaterally without consulting stakeholders in the industry. “If implemented, this is going to be a huge disaster,” he said.