Chemists to go on strike on Oct 14 against online sale of medicines

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Even as the issue of sale of drugs over the Internet is fast snowballing into a controversy with eight lakh chemists planning to go on a strike on October 14, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has set up a committee under the chairmanship of Maharashtra FDA Commissioner Dr Harshadeep Kamble to look into the matter.

Kamble told that the committee would look into the practices being followed in developed countries where such provisions were available, evaluate the risks and concerns related to online sale of drugs and its impact on public health. A public notice inviting comments and suggestions from the general public has been issued on September 21 this year, Kamble said.

Online sales of medicines can pose a huge problem as there is no regulation over how prescriptions can be tampered with, J S Shinde, president of All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists, said on Friday. Strongly worded letters have also been sent to the Prime Minister, health minister, DCGI, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority and others demanding complete prohibition on sale of medicines through the Internet.

“Food and Drug Administration regularly hauls up chemists asking them to maintain registers of sales, photocopies of prescriptions and ensure there is no re-issue of prescriptions.

So what happens to regulation of online pharmacies?” Shinde said. Prasanna Patil, Rohit Karpe and others from Chemists Association of Pune district said there needed to be regulation on sale of tranquillisers, pills for medical termination of pregnancy and other narcotic drugs which could be easily purchased via web portals. Before the DCGI issues guidelines on the issue, chemists will present their objections at a meeting to be held on Monday, Shinde said.

Pharmacists also fear that online sale of drugs will take away their business. Meanwhile World Pharmacists Day was celebrated across the country on Friday. In Pune, a medical education programme was organised by the western zone of the Maharashtra State Chemists and Druggists Association on the occasion.

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