As a mark of protest against the Food and Drug Administration's directive saying that a pharmacist be present throughout the time of a medical store’s operation, chemists across the city are keeping their stores open for merely eight hours since Monday.
However, FDA has said that it will not bow down to the demands of chemists and will continue with the drive of cancellation and suspension of licenses of chemist stores, which fail to keep pharmacists and fail to maintain transparent billing.
FDA Commissioner Mahesh Zhagade on Wednesday made it clear that there is not going to be any relief for chemists in Mumbai and Maharashtra if they do not follow the rule of having a pharmacist throughout the time of the medical store’s operation.
FDA has inspected 399 medical stores in Mumbai and ‘stopped sale’ of 170 establishments and issued a show cause notice 160 since January this year. 1,013 stores out of the 5,415 stores inspected across the state were found to be operating without a pharmacist.
Since Monday, chemists, who are members of Retail and Dispensing Chemists Association (RDCA), are keeping their stores open only between 10am and 6pm, while protesting that they cannot keep more than one pharmacist.
Zhagade said, “I have not made the law of having a pharmacist at chemists shops, I am merely implementing an existing law. Is it wrong to be concerned about the lives of patients and other people?”
He added, “Though they have been claiming that there is a shortage of pharmacists, statistics prove otherwise. There are 51,000 chemists establishments and there are 1,20,000 registered pharmacists in Maharashtra. So there is no reason that there should be a lack of pharmacists.”
FDA has put its officers’ numbers and list of 24 hours shops in public domain and citizens can contact them the in event of an emergency.
Pharmacists own around 750 medical stores in the city and all the medical stores in hospital premises continue to function on a 24-hour basis.