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Indian Pharma Industry Declares All Out War Against eCommerce; 800,000 Chemists On Strike Today

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Pharma Strike India

The online vs offline war is now much more than mere discounts and platforms: it is now fight for survival.

In one of the biggest protests we have ever seen, especially in the pharmaceutical sector, more than 800,000 chemists all over India will shut down their shops, as a protest against eCommerce and online pharmacies.

This strike has been called by All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), which is India’s largest lobby of pharmaceutical traders in India, having more than 8 lakh members.

When we tried to access their website, we found that the domain was expired last month. Maybe not so ironical, considering that they are protesting against Internet and eCommerce.

This strike is mainly called for protesting against Government’s decision to regularize sale of medicines via Internet. Not only this organization wants to stop this regularization, but it also wants the Govt. to ban sale of all medicines and drugs online.

In short, they want that medicines should only be sold via offline medium.

Legally speaking, they are clinging on to a pre-historic law from 1940s, concerning the sale of drugs and medicines in India.

AIOCD president J S Sinde said, “Internet pharmacy is a new platform for the sale of medicines for the last one year. It is completely illegal and we have even apprised higher authorities that such sale of medicines is a violation of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, which talks of proper prescription by doctors,”

A copy of the official complaint has been sent to Prime Minister’s Office, the health ministry, the Drug Controller General of India and state authorities all over the country.

Besides the legal issues, AIOCD is also concerned about the rampant use of illegal drugs by nation’s youth, who are now able to order any drug without prescription; and thus endanger their lives.

J S Sinde further said, “It poses a big threat of irrational use of medicines, leading to drug addiction among the youth… “Presently, online pharmacies accessible on the Internet supply I-pills, MTP kits, anti-depressants, cough syrups etc. without confirming the authenticity of prescriptions or the patients,”

This factor may be a valid point, to some extent. We had recently reported that Snapdeal premises were raided by FDA, because illegal and harmful drugs were reported on their portal.

When asked why American online pharmaceutical companies are successful, Sinde said that proper laws exists there to control its usage; which is absent in India.

Govt. Ensures Availability Of Drugs

Meanwhile, Govt. of India has asked Health Ministry to ensure that all Govt. hospitals across India are equipped to fill this void created, due to this strike. All state and national level hospitals have been asked to stock enough medicines to meet the demand.

A.K. Rai, medical superintendent of Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital, said, “I have already instructed officials to ensure adequate medicines and a proper back-up for October 14. In case of a major shortage, we will see how to tackle it,”

A senior official from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) said: “The AIIMS pharmacy has enough stocks of medicines. We will try our best to handle the patients rush on October 14. However, such strikes are against humanity.”

Our Opinion

This so called ‘strike’ against online commerce is an absurd, totally unnecessary reaction against a phenomenon which no offline organization can stop. At a time when we are leaping towards an empowered India via Digital medium, when our Govt. is launching portals to check pricing and availability of drugs online; does these strikes really mean anything?

Govt. should go ahead with their plans to regularize and monitor the sale of drugs online, so that no illegal/harmful medicine is sold to youths and drug-addicts. But there is no way we can stop the growth of ecommerce in this sector.

It is inevitable….period

[Image-Shutterstock.com]

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