Chemists from across the country are set to go on a nationwide one-day strike on May 30 to protest stringent regulations on the sale of medicines in the country and to draw attention to the squeeze on their margins.
The All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), representing around nine lakh chemists, said it has made several representations to the government against the recent changes in regulations as well as unviability of their businesses but no response has been received, forcing pharmacists to observe a strike. The organisation has served an advance notice to the prime minister’s office, health ministry , home ministry and drug controller.
“We have made many representations to the government but found no positive response to our concerns. The government wants us to feed all information related to sale of medicines on a portal. With the current infrastructure, it is not possible for us. On the other hand, with new regulations our margins are under pressure,” a senior executive at AIOCD said.
Drug retailers have long been demanding a hike in retailers margins, which is currently fixed at 16%. Retailers argue the margin is inadequate as the government and the regulator want them to maintain a certain infrastructure and facility including air conditioning etc. “Besides we have to maintain inventory which has a cost,” says Sandeep Nangia, president, Retail Distributors Chemists Association (RDCA). The retailers will observe a one-day long strike starting from 12 midnight on May 29 till 12 midnight on May 30. The organisation will also hold a demonstration at Jantar Mantar on the same day .Drug retailers are also opposed to government’s move towards allowing e-pharmacies or online sale of medicines. Calling online pharmacy illegal, chemists feel it is not only posing a threat to their business but can also lead to sale of counterfeits, irrational usage of medicines and risk of drug reactions.