A bid to curb misuse of drugs

Medical issue

How many time have you walked up to a pharmacy and purchased medicines for one ailment or the other without the requisite prescription?

Too many times, if  one is honest.  But, this might soon change. According to a new Government order, it will become mandatory for all medical shops to maintain a separate sales register for several hundred medicines, ranging from sleeping pills to antibiotics and anti-tuberculosis drugs.

If the order is implemented, no one would be able to buy drugs from any medical shop without a doctor’s prescription. As per the order that came into effect on March 1, 2014, retail shop owners have to maintain a register while selling drugs containing one of the 46 molecules/formulations identified by the Government and these drugs are categorised under a new schedule called H-1. The register must record the name and address of the doctors, name of the patient, besides the name of the drug and quantity supplied.

On the other hand, chemists are in an aggressive mood and have threatened to launch a nationwide stir against the new diktat. Jagannath Shinde, president of All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists spoke to Metrolife about the disadvantages of the recent order. “Maintaining a register for all drugs is humanly and practically not possible. And now that the election is close at hand, there is no one to listen to our grievances. But post the election, we are planning to go for an all India
agitation if our demands are not met.”

“And supposing the order is implemented, 52 per cent of the rural population living in far off  villages will not get medicines, because there doctors do not maintain proper information about the medicines. In villages, a doctor who has specialised in homeopathy also gives allopathic medicines and in that case they do not give any prescription. It is always hand-written. This procedure is called as crosspathy. So, we have to keep everything in mind before reaching any conclusion,” added Jagannath.

Pharmacists also claim that it is impractical to maintain such a register and the order is difficult to implement in every single retail shop all over India. Anand Rawat, one of the staff members of Sunrise Medicos, said, “Arey hamein to bahut dikkat ho jaegi (It will create problem for us). They will now ask us to keep the scanned copy of the prescription. Should we open a photostat shop also,
According to this Bill, we will have to mention the name and address of the doctor as well. What if the patient doesn’t remember the address?

It is not possible for us to do this.”

If the chemists and druggists are crying foul over the government order, M P Sharma, professor of medicine and gastroenterology at Rockland Hospital, said, “This will  definitely benefit a lot of people because today 90 per cent of the pharmacists have become doctors themselves. They will give you medicines for all possible diseases. If you take the case of the United States of America, there even if I show a prescription by an Indian doctor, I won’t get the medicines. I will only be given medicines if they are prescribed by the doctors there. Moreover, medicines have side-effects but obviously the pharmacists are not bothered about this. So, this order will also curb the misuse of the authority of selling drugs randomly by the pharmacists.”

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