AIOCD Threaten Indefinite Strikes
Following the draft notification on sale of drugs by e-pharmacies by the Union Health Ministry, the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) has declared that unless its demands are met, it will go on strike indefinitely. They are against the online sale of medicines and as stated by the President of the AIOCD, J.S. Shinde, “If the government fails to understand and does not consider our appeal positively then AIOCD shall not have any option but to go on a nationwide indefinite agitation against online sale of medicines.” The original plan involved going on strike for one day on September 28, 2018.
According to Shinde and the AIOCD, there are numerous risks to encouraging the online sales of medicines, most notably the sale of spurious knock-offs of original medications. The President of the organization has made several requests to both the State Food and Drug administrations, as well as the central government, pointing out cases of sales of illegal medicines via online stores. As per the draft notification, habit-forming drugs may not be sold via an online sales platform.
The aim of the draft notification is to enable easier sales of medicines using the internet, and to facilitate sales for manufacturers that appear to bypass the middlemen, who in this case are the pharmacies. Retailers will be able to engage in sales across the country on a single application to do so, instead of having to apply for permission in each state. This obviously will not bode well for pharmacies who have long relied on walk-in sales.