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Chemists call for strike on Oct 14 against online medicine sale

By: Pharma News | Views: 1883 | Date: 13-Oct-2015

Chemist shops to remain closed on Oct 14Chemists and druggists to shut shop on October 14 opposing illegal internet pharmaciesOver 8 lakh medical shops to be shut on 14 October to protest online sale of drugs


Chemists call for strike on Oct 14 against online medicine sale
Chemist shops to remain closed on Oct 14

Over 8 lakh medical shops to be shut on 14 October to protest online sale of drugs

As many as 8,00,000 small chemist shops in India will shut for a day next week to protest against a burgeoning online pharmacy industry that is attracting big money backers.

Healthcare provider Apollo Hospitals Enterprise plans to start online drug sales in India, while Zigy, and Sequoia Capital-backed 1 mg already have e-pharmacies to tap a retail market IMS Health says is worth about $13 billion.

Varun Gupta, head of medical affairs at 1mg said the company gets up to 60 million hits a month on its website and its mobile app has been downloaded 3.5 million times since 2012.

Indian law does not regulate e-pharmacies.

The one-day nationwide strike on October 14, called by the All India Organization of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) comes as a government panel started working on regulations for the sector.

Drug retailers say e-pharmacies challenge their businesses and would allow medicines that could be abused to be sold without verification. They also say the online pharmacies make it easier to use one prescription to purchase medicines numerous times.

"Our children are savvy to social media. If they put one prescription online, they will take a picture and send it to other companies to get medicines," AIOCD President JS Shinde said.

The group will also organise a street protest in the capital New Delhi. An indefinite strike will be considered if the government does not stop online sales, Shinde said.

Medical shops in hospitals and 24-hour pharmacies will not be shut.

A drug regulator in the state of Maharashtra who is aware of the deliberations on the issue called AIOCD's decision "premature" and said draft guidelines were several months away.

Regulators began checks after online retailer Snapdeal was found selling prescription medicines online without prescriptions in May. Snapdeal was forced to delist some products and sellers.

But drug sales, even at traditional shops in India, are weakly regulated. Pharmacists often sell medicines without verifying prescriptions.

E-pharmacies said they were not violating drug laws and customers needed to upload prescriptions before buying regulated drugs.

"We expect new regulations to give clarity for online players to exist," said Hemant Bhardwaj, chief executive at Zigy.

Apollo's Joint Managing Director Sangita Reddy told Reuters they will start online drug sales once the new regulations are finalised.

Consumers are attracted by the convenience.

"A huge database of medicines makes it a one-stop shop," said Thongsuanmung Vualnam, a New Delhi health consultant who recently started shopping for drugs online.


NAGPUR: Chemists and druggists all through the country have decided to keep their shops shut on October 14. This is being done to oppose the Centre's decision to regularize e-pharmacies that sell medicines through internet. 

All India Organization of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) that consists of more than eight lakh members across the country has called for this shut down. The chemists say that their opposition is for the various adverse effects of the move of the pharmaceutical industry in the country. 

"The companies are doing this illegally, violating the Drug and Cosmetic Act, 1940. We had written to health minister JP Nadda and Directorate Controller General of India (DGCI) expressing our concerns like increased risk of adverse drug reactions, easy access to low quality medicines and sale of illegal or banned medicines," said AIOCD president Jagannath Shinde. He added that the move will also be detrimental to the earnings of 8 lakh chemists and their 80 lakh staffers all through the country. 

Chemists also say that easy availability of drugs will further worsen the problem in India wherein certain drugs are no longer effective because of being overused. They are upset by the legal sanction of this illegal business.
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