Chemists on Strike: What can the Government do to maintain a Balance?
There is a general call for nationwide strike by chemists and druggists to protest the online sale of illegal drugs and medicines, which fail to comply with the Drugs and Cosmetic Acts, 1940. The Act was established in order to regulate the manufacture, distribution and sale of drugs in India. The underlying provision of this Act is that the drugs and cosmetics sold in India should be safe, effective and up to quality standards. The Act has not yet been amended for online sales while there is no law that prohibits the sale.
Many associations have expressed their concern over the illicit sale. The All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), which has 8,00,000 chemists as members, has decided to call the strike and insisted that the government should take lawful actions against the perpetrators. Speaking to the media, the AIOCD president J S Shinde and the secretary Suresh Gupta said that if the government does not take actions, the illegal activities will give rise to cheap and low-end products thereby affecting the health of consumers. The organization has also expressed their concerned over the fact that the increase of online selling will affect the employment of many chemists.
Another organization in Ghaziabad said that the medicines have been sold at a discounted rate without proper handling and storage. This is making them deteriorated as they are not stocked at the right temperature.
The rising trend of shopping websites allowed the government to open trading for drugs and other medicines. Now that the concern has been raised, the government is expected to regulate the trade. According to Press Trust of India, the Drugs Controller of India decided last August to set up a 5 member consultative committee. If the government decides to make new set of laws for online trade, then it must cover the following aspects.
Every trader must have a license that allows them to do business within a particular state.
- There should be a registered pharmacist who is well trained to handle orders and paperwork.
- Prescribed medicines are to be sold upon production of genuine prescription by customers.
- The export of medicines outside of India should be highly regulated and provision regarding prescription written by foreign doctor should be formulated.
While the online sale of illegal medicines continues to be debated, there are many genuine websites with lawful trade. All genuine traders have taken proper legal consultation before setting up online business and hence, the risk of shopping is nil. Generally, they ask for an online submission of prescription which is then verified by a registered pharmacist. They have made shopping easy by
providing a wide range of products which are made available online as well as in-store. A noticeable feature is that some of the online portals have developed a mobile app, thus making ordering and reordering more convenient.