Around 7.5 lakh chemists and druggists across the country, including 15,000 from Mumbai, will down shutters on Friday as part of a nationwide strike to protest against several ‘unjust’ Central government policies.
The day-long strike starting Thursday midnight has been called by the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD). The Mumbai wing of the AIOCD has joined the strike to protest against punitive actions taken against chemists by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
However, day-and-night chemists and those operating inside government and charitable hospitals will not participate in the strike, AIOCD officials said.
The Maharashtra FDA had recently begun a crackdown on chemists who don’t employ pharmacists at the shops. “There is a huge disparity in the number of chemists and number of pharmacists available. The FDA should give us time to employ pharmacists,” said Jaganath Shinde, president, AIOCD. “Also, the proposed pharmaceutical drug policy reduces the margin of retailers, which is not justifiable.”
Members of AICOD are also upset over the introduction of foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail in the drug industry. “With the existing infrastructure, we will be in a disadvantageous position,” said Shinde.
The AIOCD has also demanded that chemists be kept out of the purview of Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) if spurious drugs are found in shops.
“We have arranged a protest rally outside the FDA office,” said Damji Pallan, president of Retail Drug and Chemist Association, adding that the association is also supporting traders fighting against the local body tax (LBT).