Patients will be forced to go through long queues at government pharmacies or hospitals to buy medicines on Tuesday as 8.5 lakh chemist shops likely to remain shut across India. The wide protest was called by the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) against the Centre’s step to regularise online sale of drugs.
In just Maharashtra, at least 55,000 chemists will remain on strike. Government hospitals are expected to see a huge rush of patients. AIOCD president Jagannath Shinde claims that they had held several rounds of discussions with the Centre.
“There is insufficient infrastructure for e-pharmacy in India. The association believes that e-portals can cause scarcity of medicines in the country,” he said.
After government’s notice in April inviting proposals on the online sale of drugs, the AIOCD submitted a representation saying their biggest worry is a huge cut in profit margins due to the stiff competition.
However, Indian Internet Pharmacy Association (IIPA), an umbrella body for e-pharma portals praised the government’s decision. “We are happy that the government is committed to reform the healthcare sector in India and not just in online space. Having said that, the strike will be very inconvenient for patients and can even cause serious repercussions. As an online healthcare company, we can work with the government on healthcare data and patient reforms,” said Prashant Tandon, President of IIPA and founder of PharmEasy website.