Pharmacy sales give clues about suspected COVID cases

Pharmacy sales give clues about suspected COVID-19 cases

Chemists and druggists in the state are sending the details of customers purchasing medicines for fever, cold and cough to the health department.

Some 13,000 retail chemists and druggists in the state are sending the names, addresses and phone numbers of customers purchasing medicines for fever, cold and cough to the health department. It’s been a month since an order to this effect was passed by the department to track suspected Covid-19 cases.

The state drugs controller says that on an average 26,000 patients’ details are entered on their portal and app everyday. On Thursday alone, 1,203 pharmacies in Bengaluru Urban reported patients purchasing such medicines. The health department calls these patients for follow-up randomly, says the drugs controller.

In some cases, customers refuse to cooperate and chemists give in and sell the drugs without taking their details, say chemist associations. Drugs controller B T Khanapure said, “The health department makes calls randomly to all patients who have purchased these medicines. They do Covid-19 tests on those who show symptoms continuously. The portal comes under the State Disaster Management Authority. Called the pharmacy.karnataka.tech, we collate the data at the end of each day.”

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Khanapure said district health officers and deputy commissioners have access to the portal and the patient details are uploaded on it.

A K Jeevan, general secretary, Karnataka State Chemists and Druggists Association, who owns a medical shop in Madikeri said, "The portal collates data from 4 pm to 4 pm. As far as Kodagu district is concerned, our chemists have been sending data regularly. But we have heard that doctors are not uploading their prescriptions for those patients who visit their clinics. Each medical shop is given a login ID and password, and medical shop code."

Bengaluru Urban District Health Officer, Dr Srinivas G A, however, said that he wasn't receiving any data from pharmacies in his jurisdiction. "I haven't been receiving any data and plan to complain in the meeting at the directorate tomorrow," Dr Srinivas said.

V Harikrishnan, president of the Suvarna Karnataka Chemist and Distributors' Association said, "When doctors prescribe paracetamol, they do not prescribe the generic version. They prescribe brands. There are thousands of permutations and combinations possible with paracetamol. We are confused if we should then upload the patient's details to the portal or not. We need some clarity on this." 

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