Two drugs that were banned by the Centre last month for their harmful side effects are being sold at medical shops in the city even without a doctor’s prescription.
A notification issued by the Union health ministry on March 16 banned the manufacture, distribution and sale of two drugs — Gatifloxacin and Tegaserod — stating that they are “likely to involve certain risks to human beings”.
However, HT correspondents purchased these two drugs as well as the other banned drugs from the different pharmacies across the city. Chemists sold the drugs without asking for a prescription.
While some chemists were aware of the ban and refused to give bills, others seemed unaware and issued bills.
According to doctors, Gatifloxacin, an antibiotic given for infections in the respiratory, or urinary tract and abdomen, may lead to rise in blood sugar, damage to nerves and sometimes convulsions. Tegaserod, which is prescribed for irritable bowels syndrome, may increase risk of stroke or cardiac ailments.
Authorities at the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), which is responsible for enforcing the ban, said that they were in the process of informing chemists about the ban.
“Once all pharmacies have been informed about the ban, we will take strict action against those flouting the ban,” said PR Uttarvar, assistant commissioner, FDA.
At Noble Medicals, a 24-hour chemist shop inside Bhagwati Hospital in Borivli, the chemist readily sold us Gatifloxacin (Rs36 for five tablets) without a prescription. The man at the counter issued a bill stating that medication was prescribed by ‘Medical officer of Karuna Hospital, Borivali’. A chemist store near Malad station sold the medicine but refused to issue a bill. At National Chemist near KEM Hospital in Parel, we purchased Tegaserod (Rs23 for a ten tablets) and got a bill for it.
Damji Palan, president, Retail Dispensing Chemist Association, said that small chemist shops may not be aware of the ban, but major chemist shops do not miss such important announcements.
“Tegaserod was used for patients with irritable bowel syndrome with predominant constipation. We were prescribing it, but now we have stopped using it after it was banned in India,” said
Dr Shobna Bhatia, head of department, gastroenterology, KEM Hospital.