Sachin Jagdale – Mumbai
The Maharashtra State Chemists and Druggists Association’s (MSCDA) much publicised statewide strike has been called off. In a meeting with ministers from the Maharashtra Government including Satej Patil, FDA State Minister, and Manohar Naik, FDA Minister, along with Mahesh Zagade, FDA commissioner, Maharashtra, MSCDA representatives tabled their grievances. The State Government has assured the MSCDA that all the issues raised by them will be sorted out in the best possible way.
Of late, the MSCDA has taken a very aggressive stand to address the concerns of its members. During the proposed strike, as per the ‘work to rule’ strategy, chemists were directed to keep their premises open from 10am- 6pm from July 11-17. Moreover, if the Government would not have intervened, then complete shut down of the medicine shops was also planned from July 18-20.
In this process no prescription of allopathic medication given by homeopathic, ayurvedic, unani or electropathic practitioners would have been honoured to avoid violation of the Drugs and Cosmetic Act (the Act). Moreover, MSCDA members had even decided not to dispense schedule drug across the counter to any patient without a valid prescription. Sale of medicine falls under profession bound by and Rules there under 1945.
The Maharashtra FDA commissioner had decreed that as per the Act, doctors with degrees like BHMS, DHMS, LCEH are not allowed to prescribe allopathic medicines. According to MSCDA, such restrictions would affect the availability of medicines to patients as there are insufficient doctors to cater to the needs of India’s patients, with the situation worse in rural areas. In this scenario, MSCDA reasoned that it was not practical to follow these provisions of the Act and be expected to take care of patients by providing them required medicines in an emergency.
Meanwhile, a committee has already been set up by Patil to look into the problems faced by MSCDA members. However, as per sources, some of the issues raised by MSCDA fall under Central Government and a separate proposal needs to be sent to the Central Government for this purpose. Government authorities and MSCDA representatives are scheduled to meet again post the monsoon session on July 25 for further discussions.