FDA commissioner urges chemists to withdraw stir

In a last ditch attempt to prevent chemists from going ahead with their agitation starting Monday, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Mahesh Zagade has appealed to them to reconsider their decision and keep the interest of patients in mind. "We are totally missing the point by resorting to agitations when we can work together to address the patients' needs," said Zagade on Sunday.

"The Chief Minister, FDA officials and others met chemists on Saturday evening and addressed several issues," said Zagade, adding he was hopeful they would withdraw the strike. Zagade rued the '"different politics at play" which had led to series of agitations by chemists.

He said 50-60 per cent medical stores in the state are owned by pharmacists and it was essential to follow the stipulated rules as it would avoid the sale of sub-standard drugs. There are so many cases where patients are resistant to high-end antibiotics and hence there was a need to prevent sale of drugs without doctors' prescription. However, as per their demand, we have appointed a grievance redressal committee which met on December 12 and agreed to look into issues raised by them, said Zagade.

Zagade said the state government has asked FDA officials to take action against chemists who down shutters from Monday.

"According to Section 4 (1) of the MESMA, sale of medicines comes under essential health service, which is an emergency service. The chemists are not allowed to shut their shops or go on strike. If they go on the strike, we will take action against them under MESMA," he said.

He added, "While we are still hopeful that chemists will withdraw their stir, as a precautionary measure we have announced helpline numbers in every district and have urged district, government and cottage hospitals to update their stock of drugs."

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