The stringent drive against chemists had led to 3,000 surrendering their licenses, said Mahesh Zagade, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner. He was in the city on Friday to review the work done by the Pune division of FDA. “We will not hesitate to cancel licences of chemist shops where pharmacists are not present while dispensing medicines,” he told mediapersons.
The FDA and chemists have been at loggerheads ever since the former began a stringent drive to ensure the presence of a pharmacist at shops to dispense medicines. While chemists say that there is a lack of qualified pharmacists, FDA authorities claim that the rule has to be followed as they were dealing with the lives of people.
“Every sale of medicine has to be documented and the bill needs to be signed,” Zagade told media persons after the review meeting. While referring to the drug price control order that had slashed the prices of 348 essential medicines by 30-40 per cent, Zagade said he had written to the Indian Medical Association to direct doctors to write to chemists to make generic and cheaper drugs, if the substitute medicine was not available.
Wholesale chemists business owners had stopped purchasing medical supplies to protest against the drug price control order.
Zagade, who is also the food safety commissioner, said licensing and registration of food business operators (FBO), as per the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2011 was underway. The deadline for registration has been extended till February next year. However, out of the 4.5 crore FBOs in the country, Maharashtra had seen most registrations as 3.5 lakh of the 10-15 lakh FBOs in the state had registered, Zagade said.
He added that the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2011 had been brought about only to ensure healthy and hygienic food for citizens. The Act makes it mandatory for every FBO with a turnover Rs 12 lakh to obtain a licence and those below Rs 12 lakh to get themselves registered. This implies that all FBOs - from road-side chat sellers to vegetable vendors - have to be registered.
Zagade also said that he had written letters to the food safety administrations in other states, asking them to consider a ban on the sale and manufacture of gutkha and paan masala. “Railway authorities have been told about the ban on gutkha and they should ensure that it is not sold at railway stations,” he said.