Demanding that the retail pharmacy stores in the country should be allowed to run without full time presence of qualified pharmacists and urging the union government and the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) to drop the move to amend the Pharmacy Act for making degree as the basic qualification for registration, the All India Chemists & Distributors Federation (AICDF) has decided to hold nationwide protest agitations from next month.
To kickstart the all India agitation, the Federation will stage a protest Dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on March 24, for which it has started gathering support from all the stakeholders of the pharma trade industry.
According to Joydeep Sarkar, general secretary of AICDF and the leader of the agitation movement, the Federation would prove its claims about the Act in the court. The Act should not be amended to make degree in pharmacy as the basic qualification to run a retail medical store.
“The intention behind the amendment plan of the PCI is to eradicate the present retail and wholesale traders from the market. If such a law is enacted, a graduate in pharmacy alone shall be eligible to run a retail pharmacy store. No provision of Pharmacy Act compulsorily demands that a qualified pharmacist should be present in a retail drug store always. We are going to prove it,” he told Pharmabiz.
AICDF, whose majority of members are dealing in wholesale drug trade, has also approached the biggest trade body, All India Organisation of Chemists & Druggists (AIOCD) to support and take part in the agitation. According to sources, more than five thousand drug traders, representing various organisations from across the country, will assemble at Jantar Mantar and join the dharna against the PCI’s plan to introduce a draconian law by way of amendment, said Joydeep Sarkar from Kolkata.
“The association will not stop the protest agitations until the government withdraws from its decision to effect a new Rule intentionally to expunge those proprietors who have been engaged in the drug business for decades. These traders were in the field even before the Pharmacy Act came into being. If the new Rule is introduced, they will be asked to vacate the stores on account of being non-pharmacy graduates. Though the traders are not qualified in pharmacy subject, they are all educated and well-trained in the pharmaceutical business which is one of the supporting pillars of healthcare system,” he added.
Pranab Kumar Chakraborthy, the general secretary of Pharmaceutical Traders Association of Bengal (PTAB), who takes a leading role in the state to mobilize the traders, said the retailers and wholesalers are dealing in the sale of packed medicines only and they are not compounding any medicines in their pharmacy like what was happening in olden days. The medicines are sent to the medical shops by the manufacturing companies which are inspected for all phases of manufacture by regulatory staffs. From the production to the delivery of the packed products, there is no role for the traders and everything is monitored in a phase-wise manner by scientists and qualified pharmacists. The traders have no role either in the production or packing of the products. They just sell the well-packed products on the prescription of qualified doctors. Hence, pharmacist’s service is not necessary for selling the packed medicines in a medical shop, he opined.
Chakraborthy further alleged that there might be conspiracy by big national and international players to expunge all the wholesalers and retailers from the huge pharma market of our country. He appealed to the government to withdraw from enacting such a law that would spoil the lives of lakhs of people in the country and allow the experienced traders to run the business and ensure smooth health delivery system.
To a question, Joydeep Sarkar said, in Kolkata, PTAB has started an Academy of Pharmacy Management & Guidance (APMG) to train the unqualified staffs working in the retail stores. He said all the states in India are facing serious shortages of qualified and registered pharmacists, so it is difficult to employ registered pharmacists in every shop for 24 hours business. Employing full time pharmacists in community pharmacies is like wasting precious and skilful national wealth and they could be utilized in the other areas of the health sector to serve the society in a better way, he added.