Nagpur News: The Nagpur citizens would feel amiss if there is no problem, big or small, as they encounter a sort of trouble or the other almost daily. That too for no fault on their parts. The crucial medicines, which are part and parcel the their lives, are themselves have created a demonic problem as hundreds of patients admitted in Government hospitals are being forced to purchase costly medicines from outside. The agitation by big medicine dealers has created a situation of shortage thus hitting the patients hard.
Sunil Sarode, one of the badly affected relatives of a patient who is being treated at Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH, lamented that doctors had last week prescribed medicines to be purchased from outside. And this week, too, they have told him to purchase the medicines from outside. However, the most unhealthy problem Sunil faced was there were no medicines even at outside shops. One can then imagine the condition of GMCH, Mayo and other NMC hospitals. These hospitals have been starved of vital medicines specifically meant for life-threatening diseases.
However, as usual, the authorities at Indira Gandhi Government College and Hospital (Mayo), claimed the hospital is in possession of 70 per cent of medicines including pain killers, fevers, Blood Pressure, and diabetes. Dr Amruta Singham, Head of Medicine Department, claimed even medicines for thalassemia are in adequate stock. However, the diseases the Dr. Singham described are common except thalassemia. They are not life-threatening. What about life saving medicines?
THE AGITATION: The medicine dealers across the Maharashtra are protesting the alleged harassment by Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) on various issues. They have stopped purchasing medicines from wholesale dealer from June 1. Moreover, the medicine dealers have decided to return their licences on July 15 en masse. The dealers are anticipating sale of their medicine stocks by July 15. The dealers are agitating under the banner of Maharashtra State Chemists and Drugists Association (MSCDA) and have submitted a series of demands to the Maharashtra Government.
GOVERNMENT’S VIEWPOINT: The smooth functioning of Government hospitals is the major responsibility of Health Department. But the Government is not of the viewpoint that there is medicine shortage. The Assistant Commissioner of FDA Giri had directed the government hospitals to directly purchase medicines from manufacturers a week ago. According to him, there is ample stock of medicines and added, the Government would take appropriate measures after receiving information about the shortage of life saving medicines.
On the hand, the stocks of medicines of retail dealers, and, wholesale dealers, as well, is rapidly decining due to the agitation. It is found, generally the wholesalers keep stocks of medicine for lasting 50-60 days and the retail dealers of 3-45 days. All the dealers have tendency to keep the medicine stocks low owing the ever growing prices and the expiry dates. However, the dangerous outcome of all these factors is untold suffering by the patients, who have been already in deep trouble by the illnesses, and the shortage is making their lives more miserable.
THE PROBLEM: According to drug dealers the Government is stressing hard that the medicine stores should not be run without pharmacists, if the pharmacists are not present then their shops should be closed as there is likelihood of unknowledgeable persons posing a hazard to patients. Thus the Government is promoting the “Inspector Raj”. The FDA Inspectors, too, visit the medicine shops at their will and warn of severe actions if the dealers flout rules and regulations of FDA. The medicine dealers have submitted a horde of demands to Government one of them being shortage of pharmacists. Another problem is that in the rural areas very few MBBS doctors are carrying out their practice there. Instead, BAMS. BHMS, DMS doctors are running the show in rural areas. Most dangerous aspect in rural areas is of bogus doctors present in large numbers and gullible villagers are becoming victims of thse fake doctors. The poor patients, too, are not in a condition to treat themselves in the costly market of urban areas.
Harish Ganeshani, a member of MSCDA, said, the Association has constantly stressed upon the fact that it is not good the dealers are in medicine business without the pharmacists. A leader of the Association Jagannath Shinde had frequently said in several meetings that it is actually a grave offence to deal with medicines without the pharmacists. However, dealers should be free to sell medicines for very common illnesses like headaches, fever, cough, pain killers etc.