TNPWA to move SC to appoint pharmacists in Amma Mini Clinics

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In the wake of Madras High Court’s rejection of a petition filed by a body of pharmacists seeking a direction to the state government to appoint pharmacists in all the 2000 Amma Mini Clinics (AMCs) to dispense drugs to patients, the Tamil Nadu Pharmacists Welfare Association (TNPWA), together with other pharmacist bodies, will move the Supreme Court of India with a similar plea.

Since the process entails some financial implications and physical exertions, the TNPWA will seek the support of other associations and NGOs for the implementation of provisions of the Pharmacy Act in all the AMCs in the state, says Kumbhakonam Patten Raj, a pharmacy activist and organizing secretary of the TNPWA.

He plans to seek the support of all state pharmacist associations and the Pharmacy Council of India for a strong argument for the case in the apex court.

Last December the Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami introduced the scheme, ‘CM’s Amma Mini Clinics’ with a view to treat poor people in villages. Government has already started more than 200 AMCs and opens several units each day. All the clinics are set up in places where poor people live and no PHC is nearby. One AMC will comprise one doctor, one nurse and one attendant.

Since the government’s staffing pattern at the AMC does not contain pharmacists to dispense medicines to the patients coming to the clinics, an association of registered pharmacists challenged the government decision in the high court. At the time of consideration of the case, the advocate general (AG) informed the court that there was no need for pharmacists in the AMC to dispense medicines since the doctors themselves would take up the responsibility to give medicines to their patients. With this argument, the court dismissed the petition of the pharmacist association. The AG further informed the court that the medicines would not be dispensed by the nurses also.

“The state government is totally ignoring the role of pharmacists in the health sector. They are playing with the health of the rural people. How can the doctors dispense medicines to the patients in their busy schedule? If so, what is the role of pharmacists in medical centres and what is the relevance of Section 42 of the Pharmacy Act? The government is violating the provisions. It must stop this kind of violation and employ pharmacists in all the mini clinics,” Raj said.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu state pharmacy council (TNSPC) has passed a resolution urging the government to employ registered pharmacists in all the AMCs to implement Section 42 of the Pharmacy Act.

Dr Tamil Mozhi, the registrar of TN SPC told Pharmabiz that as per the existing law in the country only a registered pharmacist was eligible to dispense medicines to a patient. She said the medical practitioner is the head of a healthcare institution and the pharmacist is helping him. But as per the law of the country, it is the duty of the pharmacist to handle medicines and pharmacies. The council had forwarded its resolution to the government last week.

Responding to this issue, Dr. Ravindra Nath, general secretary of Doctors’ Association for Social Equality (DASE), said his association has also wanted the government to employ permanent pharmacists in all the AMCs through the TN Medical Recruitment Board. He said DASE will give full support to TNPWA for this genuine demand.

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