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Patients suffer as chemists go on strike across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Updated May 16, 2018

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Protesters burn tyres during a rally by chemists in Peshawar on Tuesday against amended drug rules. — Photo by Shahbaz Butt
Protesters burn tyres during a rally by chemists in Peshawar on Tuesday against amended drug rules. — Photo by Shahbaz Butt

PESHAWAR: Patients remained the ultimate sufferer as chemists and druggists observed complete shutter down strike and staged sit-in across the province on Tuesday against the amendments in the rules of Drug Act, 1976 by health department.

The protest call was given by Chemists and Druggists Association. Shops dealing in medicines remained closed throughout the province against 17 amendments in the rules framed in 1982 under the Drug Act, 1976. The association demanded of the government to do away with one amendment that sought presence of qualified pharmacist in the medical stores.

The health department issued a statement prescribing the amendments significant to cope with the counterfeit drugs and ensure that the supplies were made by registered manufacturers to enable the patients to buy effective drugs.

The association members took out a procession from Namak Mandi and held a sit-in near Malik Saad Flyover in Peshawar for couple of hours owing to which traffic remained suspended.

Protesters ask govt to restore Drug Act, 1976

Later, the protesters held talks with district administration and ended their protest after assurance of arranging their meeting with the chief minister on Thursday.

“We totally agree with the amendments made to ensure quality drugs to the patients, but the health department should accept the category B and C certificate which we have got after examinations,” the association chairman, Mubeen Khan, told Dawn. He said that according to reports patients suffered across the province due to non-availability of medicines.

He alleged that health department was misleading the government. “We have held about 35 meetings with relevant officials in health department to resolve the issue, but they seemed uninterested,” he said.

The statement of health department said the amendments were meant to enable the people to get quality medicines.

“Unqualified people wouldn’t be allowed to indulge in sale of drugs as they may cause harm to the human health,” it said.

In Swat, the chemists and druggists announced shutter down strike for indefinite period against the amendments to Drug Act 1976. A large number of medical store owners, chemists and druggists along with the office-bearers of Swat Traders Federation and workers of different political parties staged protest march from Nishat Chowk to Swat Press Club.

They were holding banners inscribed with slogans of “amendment to Drug Act 1976 is rejected”.

The protesters said that government through an amendment in the Drug Act 1976 made it obligatory on medical store owners to acquire category-B certificate of pharmacy which they rejected.

In Haripur, the chemists and druggists observed shutter down strike and the owners of medical stores kept their shops closed for the whole day.

The leaders of the local chemists association took rounds of the city and asked the shopkeepers to continue their strike. They termed the amendments to Drug Act tantamount to depriving majority of chemists of their sources of livelihood.

In Lakki Marwat, the chemists and druggists took out a rally to record their protest against changes in the drug rules. They also observed shutter down strike across the district and staged a protest camp near Tanchi office in Lakki city.

The patients faced hardships in getting medicines. The protesters said that the new drug rules were not acceptable to them.

In Abbottabad, complete strike and shutter down was observed by the owners of medical stores.

The strike caused problems to patients and their attendants to get medicines. The protesters said that they had reservations over the Drug Act, 2017 as it would render them jobless.

In Lower Dir, the chemists and druggists announced to observe complete shutter down strike from Wednesday (today) against the government for not accepting its demands.

Addressing a news conference at Chakdara, Pakistan Chemists and Druggists Association divisional president Khairur Rahman, district president Jan Alam Khan and others rejected the amended drug rules.

They demanded of the government to withdraw the amendments and restore the Drug Act, 1976. They said the government was not taking the issue seriously, so they had no option but to shut their outlets.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2018