Chemists in India’s Bihar State Begin 3-Day Protest Over Alleged Harassment by Drug Inspectors

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New Delhi (Sputnik): India’s eastern state of Bihar's government issued a directive that only trained and licensed pharmacists could operate drug stores in the state, as provided by the law. A representative body of chemists and druggists in the state had taken up the issue with the state government, but to no avail so far.

Retail and wholesale pharmaceutical distributors in Bihar have resorted to a three-day shutdown to protest against strict adherence to the law on the retail and wholesale pharma business. Bihar Chemists and Druggists Association (BCDA) had announced a shut-down from 22 January to 24 January with nearly 35,000 retail and 20,000 wholesale pharmacies closing their doors in protest.

​The pharmacists allege exploitation by officers of the enforcement agencies under the pretext of adherence to the law.

BCDA President P.K. Singh has announced, even pharmacies selling emergency and life-saving medicines would remain closed.

According to current laws, the sale of drugs by wholesale and retail stores can only take place in the presence of a registered pharmacist or competently trained persons as stipulated by the regulators.

BCDA said, only 7,500 trained and licensed pharmacists are available in Bihar and it was not possible for each of the 35,000 drug stores to have on-site pharmacists. “Despite being aware of the situation, drug inspectors are suspending the licences of drugstores during inspections,” Singh alleged. He added, they have a valid license from the provincial government to sell drugs.

Singh also demanded uniform guidelines for pharmacies to prevent manipulation by drug inspectors and a fair and transparent process for the cancellation of licenses and their suspension and restoration.

Meanwhile, Bihar’s Chamber of Commerce has urged the state health minister to intervene and consider the demands of the drug retailers and wholesalers. There was no response so far, from the government side to the demands of the druggists.

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