Chemists withdraw ‘work-to-rule’ agitation after talks with FDA

Chemists Friday called off their 'work-to-rule' agitation after discussion with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorities and the timely intervention of political leaders such as Raj Thackeray and Manohar Naik who assured them the issue will be resolved, Anil Navander, general secretary of the state chemists and druggists association said.

The FDA crackdown on them for not having a full-time 'pharmacist' for selling prescription drugs had led to a stalemate with chemists refusing to budge from their 'work to rule' stand, even as chemists' retail stores were being shut at 6 pm in the city and across the state.

Mahesh Zagade, FDA Commissioner told The Indian Express 'Stop Sale' notices have been issued to 739 chemists from January this year after inspections found there was no pharmacist present during the sale of prescription drugs. Around 790 showcause notices have also been slapped on chemists directing them to state why their licences should not be suspended. According to B R Masaal, Joint Commissioner, Pune division, around 631 shops were inspected and 88 'Stop Sale' notices issued as there were no pharmacist present.

Zagade said the inspections were in accordance with the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and while there are 1.30 lakh pharmacists available in the state, a survey in Mumbai and Thane found that at least 34% of the 51,000-odd chemists shops did not have pharmacists. "At the time of applying for licence, chemists take an undertaking to appoint full-time pharmacists, but our random inspections show another story," Zagade said.

The chemists' association had not officially called for a shut down. Navander, categorically stated that it was a spontaneous reaction of chemists to down shutters across the state. In October last year chemists had threatened agitations as they had alleged harassment by FDA officials in the name of tackling female foeticide.

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