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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Chemist shops will remain closed on Friday

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Lucknow, May 09, 2013
First Published: 10:54 IST(9/5/2013) | Last Updated: 10:55 IST(9/5/2013)

The Lucknow Chemists' Association (LCA) has announced that they would participate in the nationwide daylong strike called by the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) on May 10.

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Nearly 4,000 chemists in Lucknow have decided to keep their establishments closed on the day.

"And so 1.25 lakh chemists in Uttar Pradesh will be closed for the day," said Giriraj Rastogi, president of LCA, at a press conference on Wednesday.

More than 7.5 lakh medical shops across the country will remain closed to raise their voice against the government's new drug policy.

The agitating chemists are against the "unjustified" government policies, which include reduction in prices of medicines and implementation of FDI in the sector.

They are also protesting against the mandatory presence of pharmacists at medical shops and want the government to remove the provision in the drug act that makes the shopkeeper the first culprit in case of an anomaly.

They say pharmacists were required when medicines (syrups and powder) had to be mixed manually, but now they come in strips and in sealed bottles hence there's no need to mix them manually.

"Majority of the shop owners are running business for over 10 years and have ample experience in identifying drugs by brand, generic name and even by compound name. They should be permitted to continue doing so without the pharmacists," said Vikas Rastogi, spokesperson, LCA.

FDI will first reduce drug prices and gradually create a monopoly of foreign companies in drug distribution.

Eventually, this will push drug prices up and leave 25 lakh families jobless (countrywide), said Suresh Kumar, senior vice-president of the LCA.

The medicine traders are also against the government's decision to reduce the trade margin in the forthcoming Drugs (Price Control) Order 2013.

"The decision for strike is not out of whims, but after meeting union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, union minister of state for chemical and fertilizer SK Jena, minister of state for health & family welfare AHK Choudhury and the drug controllers of all the states," said Suresh Gupta, general secretary, AIOCD.

Asked if this strike could have been avoided, Giriraj said, "We have tried talking to everyone we could but are left with no other option."


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