A majority of the medical stores across Noida and Ghaziabad remained closed on Wednesday in support of the nationwide strike called by the All India Chemists and Druggists Organisation (AICDO) against online pharmacies.
Over 2,000 chemists in Noida, affiliated to Gautam Buddh Nagar District Chemists Association (GBNDCA), joined the strike.
Over 500 members of the GBNCDA proceeded to Jantar Mantar from Noida City Centre Metro station at 10am to protest against the Central government’s move to regularise online sale of medicines.
“The government’s decision of allowing sale of medicines online is a blow to our livelihood. Our trade is sure to collapse if it continues. Moreover, the online sale of medicines is against the rules at various levels,” said Anoop Khanna, president of GBNCDA.
Members of the Ghaziabad chemists and druggists association gathered at the district headquarters on Wednesday morning to stage their protest.
“These companies will hit our sales as they are offering medicines at a discount. This will also lead to deterioration in quality of medicines as they need to be stocked at specified temperatures. Online pharmacies should not be allowed to flourish at the cost of our business,” said Rajeev Tyagi, general secretary of the Ghaziabad Chemists and Druggists Association.
At present, Ghaziabad has around 4,000 retailers and wholesalers who supply medicines. All the wholesale outlets at Nai Basti, the district’s biggest medicine market, also remained closed.
The protesting pharmacists alleged that the online pharmacy stores will give rise to drug abuse among the people.
“There are certain drugs that require a physician’s prescription. In the online pharmacy setup, there is no provision to check the prescription before supplying such medicines. Even if there is a mechanism to check it, the prescription can be fabricated and submitted online,” said Deepak Agarwal, secretary of the Ghaziabad Chemists and Druggists Association.
Drug inspector Rajesh Srivastava said the department was seeking guidelines from the state officials about the issue of prescriptions for online pharmacies. Customers, especially those who purchase medicines regularly from retail stores, had to suffer.
“Since I had no prior information about the strike, I could not buy insulin injections for my mother. I had no option but to wait for another day for the shops to open,” said Preeti Sinha, a Kavi Nagar resident.
However, many residents made use of the pharmacy stores set up at some of the private hospitals, which remained open.