Delhi chemists join nationwide protest against e-pharmacies

New Delhi: With over 6,800 chemist shops remaining shut across the national capital on Wednesday, the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) has warned of an indefinite strike if the government did not stop the sale of drugs online.

The association, that was approached by the health ministry on Tuesday to call off the strike, will have a meeting with health minister J.P. Nadda next week over the issue.

“Our strike has been successful. Over 90 percent of the chemist shops across the country are shut today and the only reason we allowed 10 percent of them to remain open was to avoid any difficulty to the patients.

“In Delhi too, over 6,800 chemist shops remained shut,” J.S. Sinde, president, AIOCD, told IANS.

According to the association, Delhi has around 7,000 chemist shops.

“Our fight is with the government. They are not understanding the problem that can be caused by the sale of drugs online. Before holding today’s strike, we tried to speak to the health ministry but were not even given an appointment,” added Sinde.

The delegation of AIOCD will meet the health ministry officials next week. However, if the government will not agree to take action against the brands selling drugs online then an indefinite strike is the only solution, he said.

“Through our demands we also want to prevent the sale of duplicate medicines being sold by the e-pharmacy companies, which the consumers are not going to understand,” Sinde said.

Kulpreet Kaur, co-founder of Shop Pirate, a brand that is involved in the sale of online medicines, said: “There is no harm in technology acting as an enabler in offering convenience to customers.

“We need to bring in comprehensive laws and process to avoid any social issue. E-commerce has always played a role of giving opportunities to everyone in the ecosystem.”

Due to the day-long strike, a huge rush was seen in the pharmacies of the government-run hospitals.

“We had already replenished the stock of medicines two days ago, so there was not much of a problem. A day-long strike today didn’t affect much.

“However, in case there is an indefinite strike it will be difficult to handle the situation,” a senior resident doctor at the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital told IANS.

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