Chemists in Delhi and Haryana will down shutters on August 1 in protest of the union health ministry’s proposal to introduce stricter norms for sale of Schedule H drugs — medicines sold on prescription.
The All India Chemists’ Association has planned to stage a protest at Jantar Mantar on August 1.
“Chemists from 32 states are coming to Delhi to protest the ministry’s proposal, which requires them and doctors to retain prescriptions of antibiotics to check their abuse,” said Kailash Gupta, president, All India Chemists’ Association.
“The proposal is absurd. More than 91,000 shops in Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Orissa will remain closed on the day,” said Gupta. “We are hopeful that more will join in as the news spreads,” he said.
The chemists are opposed to the proposal, as they feel that if sale of medicines is restricted, it would lead to black-marketing, which would, in turn, give rise to corruption.
“The end user — the patient — will suffer, as medicines will not be available,” he said. The government claims that the steps are needed to check the overuse of antibiotics, leading to development of multi-drug resistant bacteria.
“At present, only advanced antibiotics have been included in the proposal. This system (of retaining prescriptions) is prevalent in many countries. The step is necessary, as overuse of antibiotics has led to several problems like development of multi-drug resistant bacteria. This will be a long term problem,” said a union health ministry official.
“New policies need more effort… we have to take this step and expect cooperation,” he added.
The chemists said if their demand for scrapping this proposal was not met, they would intensify their protest. “It is the first stage of the protest that we are closing shops in four states. If our demands are not met, we will extend the protest to all states,” Gupta added. (With agency inputs).