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FDA rules violation: License of 1,642 suspended, 318 medical stores closed in Maharashtra

Amid the pandemic, the apex drug regulating body, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received several complaints of overcharging and illegal sale of essential drugs for Covid-19 patients
By Rupsa Chakraborty, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUL 02, 2021 11:22 PM IST

Amid the pandemic, the apex drug regulating body, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received several complaints of overcharging and illegal sale of essential drugs for Covid-19 patients. Following this, the officers suspended the license of 1,642 medical stores and closed down 318 stores that were found violating rules, laid down by the FDA.

With the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020, demand for life-saving drugs like Remdesivir, Tocilizumab and oxygen among other medical equipment like oximeters, the thermometer has increased by 400%, as per chemists. Taking advantage of this, many medical stores started selling those medical essentials at a higher than the mentioned maximum retail price (MRP). Some even stocked medicines to increase the prices, which led to the harassment of the relatives of Covid-19 patients.

Taking note of it, FDA undertook thousands of raids across the state and took stringent action. “Our inspectors visited the random medical stores as customers and red-handedly caught them violating the FDA rules. We have suspended the license of 1,642 medical stores. In some cases, we found repeated violations, that were earlier given a warning. A total of 318 stores that were repeat offenders have been ordered to close down,” said DR Gahane, joint commissioner of FDA Maharashtra.

In the state, there are around 72,000 medical shops and 25,000 wholesalers. Over a thousand showcause notices have been issued to the shops that have been found not following the rules laid under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, during the pandemic.

In the city, there are 6,496 medical shops and 4,500 medical wholesalers. During the inspection, 230 were found violating the rules laid by the act whose license has been suspended. Meanwhile, 33 medical stores have been closed down in the city.

The highest number of complaints were recorded in April 2021 when the pandemic curve was at its peak and the state was recording the highest number of daily Covid-19 cases in the country.

“Every year, we conduct the inspections. But this year, the number of violations was more due to the sudden rise in the demand of the medicines in the pandemic,” he said.

However, health activists said the department is running on half of its manpower strength for years. Hence, the department failed to take action against the culprits on time.

“Every time, we complained about the hoarding of essential medicines during the pandemic, the officers failed to take timely action. They told us that they didn’t have the manpower. I hope, the authorities learn some lessons and importance of the department and fill up the vacant posts at the earliest,” said Dr Ravikant Singh, from Doctors For You, an NGO.

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