Coronavirus outbreak | Lockdown effect: Psychiatric patients struggle to get medicines

Updated: Mar 25, 2020, 07:32 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

She went back to the doctor in Andheri East for a prescription. 'Not all pharmacies have that medicine so I went back. It took me five hours. I have medicines for a month, but what then?' she said

Citizens buy medicines near KEM Hospital. Pic/Suresh Karkera
Citizens buy medicines near KEM Hospital. Pic/Suresh Karkera

With the lockdown having necessitated phone consultation, psychiatric patients are left with no fresh prescriptions and as a result, no medicines. While the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) has allowed sending prescriptions online, psychiatrists say chemists need instructions from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to accept soft copies of prescriptions.

It took a 45-year-old woman three days to get medicines for her 19-year-old son who has autism with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). "I had to show the police my son's medical file before they allowed me on the bus on Monday. But the pharmacy refused to give me the medicines even after I got my doctor to talk to them on phone," the Malad resident said.

She went back to the doctor in Andheri East for a prescription. "Not all pharmacies have that medicine so I went back. It took me five hours. I have medicines for a month, but what then?" she said.

Dr Kersi Chavda, a psychiatrist at H N Reliance Hospital received similar complaints. "Patients either have to visit the hospital or numerous pharmacies," he said. Dr Harish Shetty, of Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital has written to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare suggesting that norms for Schedule X medicines and those under the NDPS Act be relaxed through FDA. "Antidepressants like Benzodiazepine or medication for ADHD, and other drugs are sold under strict guidelines. But people are not able to renew prescription," Shetty said.

Maharashtra's health minister Rajesh Tope said, "I will discuss the issue with the director of FDA and the Public Health Department."

As per MMC's circular, prescriptions sent online must be on the doctor's letterhead and must follow a specific format.

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