In a special drive to check sex-selective abortions, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has filed seven police complaints against at least 37 persons in the past month, including doctors, chemists and medical representatives in the city, for violations in stocking and maintaining records of abortion pills.
Across the state, the FDA has launched 28 complaints in all. The drive, launched on June 6, has resulted in a 81% drop statewide in sale of pills used for second trimester abortions.
According to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, doctors, while giving prescriptions for abortion pills, need to mention details such as registration number, name and address of medical practitioner, name and address of the pregnant woman, name of the medicines, manufacturer and expiry date. Chemists are expected to check these details and cannot dispense pills against incomplete prescriptions. They have to maintain records of these prescriptions for two years. Only qualified gynaecologists are allowed to prescribe these medicines. If found guilty, offenders attract a jail term of up to two years.
However the FDA found many doctors, chemists and medical representatives had not maintained proper records of prescriptions and stocks of abortion pills. So far, it has served notices to 1,159 chemists statewide.
“Abortion pill sales in June dropped to 18.72% of average monthly sales,” said Mahesh Zagade, commissioner, FDA.
Doctors have complained that as a result of the crackdown, chemists are refusing to sell abortion pills as a result of which genuine cases of pregnant women in need of abortions have been unable to get required medicines. Zagade said doctors should complain to local drug inspectors and the FDA would make the medicines available.
“It was unfair to take action against chemists. Chemists face genuine problems such as receiving prescriptions from general physicians, homeopaths, and ayurvedic doctors in the area who routinely prescribe abortion pills and it becomes very difficult to refuse these. There should be monitoring on that as well,” said Dhanskhekhar Nadar, head of chemists’ association in Mulund.
He denied reports that chemists were refusing to stock medicines and said records of prescriptions were being maintained.