All India Organisation of Chemists & Druggists (AIOCD) is a representative body of nearly 5.5 lakhs members engaged in pharmaceuticals retail and wholesale trade. The prime objective of AIOCD is to protect the interest of their members and the general public and ensure a constant flow of distribution of the best quality of medicines in the prescribed rates at every nook and corner of the country. AIOCD General Secretary JS Shinde talks to Sarat C Das about the organisation's commitment towards its members and people at large.
HT: All India Organisation of Chemists & Druggists is a 28-year old organisation now? What are your achievements and goals for future?
Our greatest achievement is to bring 5.5 lakh retail and wholesale chemists under one umbrella and protect the interests of the Pharma Trade. During the past 28 years the AIOCD has worked consistently for the safeguard and security of the chemists. The AIOCD has the following achievements to its Credit:
a) The trade margins have increased from a meager 3% to 5 % for wholesalers to 8 to 10% and from 10 to 12% for retailers to 16 to 20%.
b) The trade is now getting full replacement for expired / damaged goods because of a MOU signed with the Industry.
c) The AIOCD has managed to convince the Govt. and the Industry to print medicines "MRP inclusive all taxes" instead of "MRP ------ taxes extra" which was confusing the customers and creating mistrust.
d) The AIOCD has protected the trade from the draconian laws of NDPS Act and the harsh recommended actions of the Mashelkar Committee in case of spurious Drugs.
e) Because of our Unity and Strength the AIOCD is represented in the Drugs Advisory Council, the Mashelkar Committee and various other forums of the Govt of India.
f) In the VAT regime we had convinced the Govt. to reduce the VAT on Medicine from 8% to 4% thus making medicines more affordable to patient.
The future is going to be highly competitive and professional so the main trust of the AIOCD will be upgrade the knowledge of our members with refresher courses and to make them thoroughly professional to face the challenges ahead.
HT: AIOCD is a representative body of some 5.5 lacs members engaged in Pharmaceuticals Retail & Wholesale Trade. How difficult job it is to manage such a large community?
Managing a large community of 5.5 lakhs is an enormous task and to reach out to every member in our vast country requires organizational skills. The AIOCD is the parent body which affiliates the State or UT Association. The State Association in turn affiliates the District Association which comprises of tehsil or local units. All the state, District, Tehsil organisations are registered bodies functioning in a democratic fashion thereby ensuring that the message of AIOCD is percolated to the remotest chemist.
HT: How successful AIOCD has been in fulfilling its prime objective to protect the interest of its members and the consumers at large in ensuring a constant flow of distribution of quality medicines at a prescribed rate in India?
The AIOCD is very successful in ensuring a constant flow of distribution of quality medicines to the remotest chemist through its vast network of wholesalers and retailers thus serving the sick and the suffering at all times. With our exhaustive network, medicines are available to the poorest of poor in distant micro- interiors. Our achievements, as listed above go to prove beyond doubt that the AIOCD has been successful in protecting the trade and its consumers.
HT: Last year AIOCD floated a limited company that has subsidiaries in the States to enter organised retailing. How it is gaining ground?
The Ltd Company - AIOCD LTD was floated by our members after deep study and deliberations at various meetings with the sole intention of protecting and safeguarding the trade from organised corporate houses who are threatening the very existence of our members. Our members have realised that with the changing times we also should also corporatise and fight these sharks on their own terms. Since this is a company which has the manpower and experience for the past eight decades we are bound to succeed.
HT: It is always AIOCD idea to protect its members by entering into organized wholesaling and retailing by providing corporate umbrella facilities such as information technology training, warehousing, marketing and information back-up. How this has been received by your members?
It is the firm idea of AIOCD Ltd that if we have to corporatise then we have to be thoroughly professional and have the best facilities, know how and expertise. We have the infrastructure and manpower which we have to train, guide and back-up to reach the high standards of a corporate organization. Our members have realized the need of the hour and are proud to be a part of this company.
HT: You had appointed Ernst & Young and Accenture to draft logistics and business plan for the company and its subsidiaries. AIOCD way of approaching business appears to be very professional!
Because of our commitment, we have taken a modern fully-equipped office at Corporate Park Chembur and employed top professionals. We have appointed consultants of international repute E & Y and Accenture to guide us draft logistics and business plans. Regarding I.T. we have deployed SAP for our business. Our leadership believes that we have to be best with the latest inputs.
HT: What is the working relation of AIOCD with various government bodies and other institutions such as Indian Drug Manufacturers Association (IDMA) and Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI)?
Our relationship with the Industry (IDMA,OPPI, PAMDAL) is very cordial. We sit across the table and thrash out issues concerning the Trade & Industry. We sign MOU's to ensure smooth business continuity. With Govt Bodies we work in close co-ordination since we are recognized by the Govt and are consulted in all major plans and decisions. We have meetings with the Ministry of Health and F & C, NPPA, DCI etc and put forward our views, suggestions, apprehensions and recommendations.
HT: How do you the distribution of life-saving and essential drugs through your member network?
We have made various suggestions to the Govt. Of India that all life saving and essential drugs should be distributed through our channel. Besides our members are willing to work on lesser margins on these products so that they are made affordable to the poor and the suffering. We have already offered our services to the Industry, where our members will comply with the storage conditions and speedy delivery since these drugs require cold chain facilities.
HT: You have mobilized funds for Kargil Jawans, flood affected victims of Orissa, earthquake victims of Kutch and Tsunami victims in Tamil Nadu. How these philanthropy works have helped you in achieving national recognition?
We have mobilized funds and donated generously for various national calamities as part of our social commitment. We are not doing these charitable acts for recognition but to demonstrate our concern and service to the nation. We would be very happy if the consumers differentiate our Pharma Trade from other general traders and realize that we are professionals.
HT: You are running Samarpan Blood bank at Ghatkopar, built Pharmacy College at Kolhapur, and arrange Blood Donation Camps. Medical Camps at District & State Levels. What are the other philanthropic works you plan to undertake now?
Our State and District Associations are engaged in various philanthropic works as part of our social obligation. Besides the Medical & Blood Donation Camps, our state association like MSCDA Educational Fund gives scholarships to poor and deserving students and pays for medical expenses of the poor patients besides donating spectacles, hearing aids, ambulances, wheelchairs etc to various homes for the aged, institutions etc.
HT: You have successfully convinced Government authority such as NPPA and Voluntarily sacrificed our margins on intravenous Fluids such as Dextrose, Normal Saline etc. Now people at large would expect more from you!
The expectations from people will never end and the AIOCD will continue to fulfill the aspirations of the public as we do not tolerate any injustice to our trade or the consumer. Our members ensure that the medicines available are of the highest quality and that no spurious medicines infiltrate our Trade. Our members have started upgrading their retail outlets, with computers, modern outlook, air conditioning (wherever possible) patient counseling, free home delivery, free weight and B.P. checking etc. They are investing in all these amenities for their own and consumer benefit and that too without any extra margins. You must realize that the Pharma trade has fixed trade margins since 1987 after which no margins have increased while maintenance & labour costs have increased ten fold. But we shall continue to serve the public with a smile.
HT: What are the typical problems of your member community which consists of Pharmacy distributors, stockist, general wholesalers and retail chemists?
Since our trade is governed by stringent laws and conditions enforced by FDA it is practically impossible to be 100% obedient. The retailers sometimes have to oblige their customers who come without prescriptions so minor offences are likely to be committed which the FDA does not accept.
HT: There is always a little communication gap which leads to delay in withdrawing banned drugs from the shelf. How AIOCD is addressing this issue through its members and authorities concerned?
Withdrawal of Banned Drugs is the prime duty of the FDA and the AIOCD along with its affiliated units ensures quick withdrawal of banned products through its network. Dissemination of information to all members is vital in such situations and only the AIOCD is equipped to reach out to all members. Hence the withdrawal of banned drugs is withdrawn at the earliest. The list of banned products is also printed in our State, District, Tehsil Bulletins and Newsletters to ensure total compliance.