Drug stores not officially told to keep stores open for 8 hours: Masaal

FDA Joint Commissioner B R Masaal told mediapersons at a press conference on Monday that they were unaware that medical stores were open only for eight hours as they were not officially intimated about it. FDA officials also claimed that they were not told officially that drug stores will remain open for only eight hours.

Masaal added that 16 wholesalers had also been issued showcause notices for not purchasing drugs thus leading to shortage in the market. Wholesale chemists business owners had stopped purchasing medical supplies to protest against the alleged harassment by FDA officials.

A chemists' association had retaliated against the new drug price control order which has slashed the prices of 348 essential medicines by 30-60 per cent of its current price and also FDA's crackdown on chemists operating without full time pharmacists.

Chemists had decided to stop business by making no further purchase if FDA continued its drive. However, Masaal said that if the drug shortage was created by wholesalers, then FDA would start taking action under the Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supply of Essential Commodities Act, 1980.

Anil Navander, General Secretary of Maharashtra State Chemists and Druggists Association said that there was no issue of cancelling licences.

"We are willing to surrender our licences and return drugs to manufacturers,"

he said. "We have been

told to abide by the law and hence we will work for eight hours only," Anil Belkar, treasurer of the Western zone of the association said. On Monday chemists across the state had kept their stores open from

2 pm to 10 pm.

Masaal, however, pointed out that at least 25 pharmacies with major hospitals and retail chain drug stores of major pharmas will remain open throughout the day. FDA has appealed to the chemists to resolve the issue with the state government.

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