With the Maharashtra State Chemist and Druggist Association’s (MSCDA) refusing to call off their seven-day-old strike, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is set to activate a parallel system of medicine distribution to tackle medicine shortage if the need arises.
FDA authorities have issued instructions to medical stores at prime hospitals to purchase extra medicines to ensure steady supply and has also asked pharmaceutical companies to make available medicines to retailers, if they approach them directly.
The decision comes after the chemists’ association decided to stop purchasing medicines from manufacturers from June 3, citing inability to conduct business owing to harassment by FDA officials.
“Our primary focus is the patients, as they shouldn’t be inconvenienced due to unavailability of medicines. After creating a parallel system to solve this problem, we contacted all medicine manufacturers, asking them to supply drugs to retailers when needed. Additionally, we have also asked major hospitals to stock up since they have wholesale licenses, so that if need be retailers can purchase from these hospitals,” said BR Masal, joint commissioner FDA (Drug).
“We have dispatched 800 letters to all manufacturers, wholesale dealers and hospitals requesting them not to support the bandh. We have also asked wholesale licence holders to sell medicines to small retailers,” said Ramchandra Bhilare, assistant commissioner FDA (Drug).
“As a second step, we will also initiate action against wholesale dealers who are not purchasing medicines and supporting the strike. We will take action as per Section 3 of the Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of supplies of Essential Commodities Act 1980, Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act 2011 (MESMA) and few others,” Masal said.
Strike to continue
Refusing to budge from their stand, at a state-level meeting held at Jalgaon, MSCDA has decided to continue their strike. “All state chemist associations’ members have decided to refrain from purchasing medicines because of the harassment by FDA,” said Vijay Chengedia, secretary of MSCDA Pune. “We are also informing MLAs from our respective areas about our strike and are maintaining our stand on surrendering our licences to FDA.”