Selling strips of medicines that are past their expiration date is illegal, the central Mumbai district consumer forum said on Tuesday, directing a city medical store to pay a sum of Rs. 30,000 to a Sion resident for having sold him an ‘expired’ strip of tablets. The consumer forum held the medical store Dial for Health India Limited guilty of deficiency in service, for selling the medicines to Chetan D’souza, the complainant.
According to the complaint lodged by D’souza, he had purchased a strip of Cefdiel and Becozinc capsules from the medical store in Sion (East) on July 13, 2012, after being prescribed the drugs by his doctor. On the evening of July 14, he started feeling uneasy, and vomited twice.
The next day, before consuming the tablets, he noticed that the expiry date of the Cefdiel capsules was in June 2012. He then carefully checked the batch number on the strip, and found that it differed from the one that had been entered in the invoice issued by the medical store. D’souza then complained to the medical store owner, as well as the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), and eventually approached the consumer forum, seeking a compensation of Rs. 1 lakh.
Dial for Health India strongly contested the complaint. Though it admitted that a strip of expired medicines had been sold to the complainant, it blamed the matter on its pharmacist, saying that he had not followed the instructions given by the store.
It also levelled a counter-allegation, saying that the pharmacist had entered the wrong batch number under pressure from the complainant. The store maintained that since its pharmacist had committed the mistake, it should not be penalised. It also contended that the FDA had, based on D’souza’s complaint, already punished the store by suspending its licence for six months.
The consumer forum, however, held that the medical store was liable for the wrongdoings of its pharmacist, as expired medicines had been sold to the complainant. The forum said that the remedy available to a complainant under the Consumer Protection Act is in addition to all other remedies.
The forum held that the complainant had suffered physically and mentally owing to the consumption of expired medicine, and therefore was entitled to claim compensation. The medical store will have to pay him compensation of Rs 25,000, and an additional Rs5,000 towards litigation cost, within a month.
What consumers need to do
* Always check the expiry date of drugs before buying them
* Pharmacists cannot prescribe drugs. Always consult a doctor before taking medication
* Many medicines have similar sounding names so one needs to be cautious before buying them. Consult a doctor, if in doubt
* Do not consume medication if you experience any side-effects, which your doctor has not told you about
* A written complaint can be filed before the district consumer forum for pecuniary value of up to Rs. 20 lakh, the state commission for value of up to Rs. 1 crore and the National Commission for value above Rs. 1 crore, in respect of defects in goods or deficiency in service
* No complaint can be filed for deficiency in any service that is rendered for free or under a contract of personal service
* The remedy under the Consumer Protection Act is an alternative in addition to that already available to the aggrieved persons/consumers by way of civil suit
* In the complaint/appeal/petition submitted under the Act, a consumer is not required to pay any court fees but only a nominal fee.
Central Mumbai District Forum and South Mumbai District Forum
Contact: 022-24171360, 022-24171332
Mumbai Suburban District Forum
Additional Thane District Forum