Medical shops face closure due to dearth of pharmacists

  • Bedanti Saran, Hindustan Times, RANCHI
  • Updated: Jun 07, 2015 22:33 IST

Retailers across Jharkhand will stop selling medicines from July 1 to protest against the government’s crackdown on them for carrying out business without registered pharmacists, said a representative of the association on Saturday.

More than 11,000 Jharkhand chemists and druggists association members will shut their shops if the government does not streamline the system of registering pharmacists in the state, said association general secretary Amar Kumar Sinha.

“The drug control authorities are torturing shop owners and suspending their licenses for dispensing medicines without employing a registered pharmacist. Licenses of more than 1,000 retail shops have been suspended in last six months,” he said.

“How can every shop hire a pharmacist if the number of shops is much more than the registered pharmacist? Jharkhand has 11,000 shops whereas the number of (registered) pharmacist in the state is only 2,000. The government should not have given licensees to these shops if it did have the required number of registered pharmacists.”

According to the Pharmacist Act and the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, the state government is empowered to prohibit the dispensing of medicines on the prescription of a medical practitioner by a person, who is not a registered pharmacist.

“The provision was made in 1940, when shop owners used prepare medicines by mixing different components before dispensing them to the customers…Nowadays all medicines are manufactured and packed…,” Sinha said.

The association has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to include this provision of the Act of 1940 in the list of obsolete and irrelevant laws which are needed to be scrapped, he added.

State drugs control authorities say they have not received any ultimatum from the retailers. “We have not received any communiqué from the association regarding their demands and ultimatum. We are acting as per the law. All drug inspectors in the state have been asked to make physical verification of every medicine shops and 75% of the job has been done,” said Ritu Sahay, director Jharkhand drugs control.

“Within 10-days, we will be in a position to figure out the exact number of shops running (without registered pharmacists) in the state and the proposed action to be taken against the violators,” she said.

The Jharkhand state pharmacist registration tribunal contradicts the pharmacist association, saying the state have more than 6,000 pharmacists registered with it.

“Currently, the state has 6,000 registered pharmacists. This includes 2,120 pharmacists registered in Jharkhand after the state’s creation. Others are registered in Bihar but they have been given provisional registration for one year in 2014-15 in accordance with the Jharkhand High Court’s directive,” said Kaushlendra Kumar, the registrar-cum-secretary of the tribunal.

“About 1,000 of these pharmacists are working in different hospitals, colleges and other government jobs, “ he said.

Kumar further said shortage of pharmacist was due to lack of colleges in the state.

There are only four colleges in the state, including the state-owned Pharmacy Institute at Bariatu in Ranchi having 60 seats. There are three privately-run pharmacy colleges, including the Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi College of Pharmacy, Hesar, and Indian Institute of Pharmacy, Jamshedpur. Only BIT offers a degree course in pharmacy while the other three offer diploma courses.

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