Special counters at a few 24-hr chemists
With the city on high alert after the Hyderabad blasts on Thursday, the Retail and Dispensing Chemist Association (RDCA) on Thursday decided to operate emergency counters at about 30-40 select 24-hour medical stores, especially near major hospitals.
A majority of chemist shops in the city have been working only between 10am and 6pm since Monday to protest the state Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) campaign against those operating without a pharmacist.
So far, FDA has inspected 398 chemist shops in the city and found that 170 of them did not have a pharmacist.
The association leaders claimed that the police had requested them to open 24-hour medical shops in the wake of the blasts in Hyderabad.
"We will open 24-hour medical stores, but selectively and in certain areas. This is purely in light of the attack that has taken place in Hyderabad and Mumbai being put on high alert. This does not mean that we have given up our protest. This is being done on humanitarian ground," said Prasad Danave, general secretary, RDCA.
FDA officials claimed that many shop owners, especially ones owned by pharmacists were keen to run their shops, but were being bullied into shutting because of RDCA's pressure.
FDA officials said that more than 750 medical stores in the city owned by pharmacists and medical stores in hospital premises have assured them that they will continue to function on 24-hour basis.
"There was a recent incident at Asha Parekh Hospital, where members of the association created some problem. We have taken it seriously as it affects the lives of patients. I have written to the Mumbai police to protect the pharmacists who want to run their shops," said Mahesh Zagade, state FDA commissioner.
Zagade has informed his officers to write to the local police in other districts too about providing protection to such chemists.
FDA records show that the state has over 51,000 chemists registered with them and around 1.2 lakh pharmacists. Officials said unavailability of pharmacists at medical shops could be a reason for availability of spurious drugs.