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Medicine shops to stay shut

Patna: Medicine shops across the state will be closed for 24 hours from midnight on September 27 to midnight on September 28.

The Bihar Chemists & Druggists Association has called the strike in support of the all India strike called to protest the Centre's decision of bringing draft rules for allowing operation of online or e-pharmacies.

Around 42,000 wholesale and retail medicine shops registered with the Bihar Chemists and Druggists Association - including 2,100 of them in Patna - would be closed.

"Medicine shop owners associated with the association would also register their protest by wearing black badges during their work hours from September 20 to September 27," said association president Parsan Kumar Singh.

He said that the effect of the strike would be felt in the state capital, "however, in other districts, around 25 per cent small medicine shops are not registered with our association. They are not supposed to take part in the strike".

Parsan said: "As per the proposed draft rules, only those online pharmacies which would be registered with the government would be allowed to operate. The medicine shop owners and pharmacists across the country are protesting against Centre's decision as this would legalise the trade of online pharmacies, which they don't want at all."

Santosh Kumar, general secretary, Patna Chemists & Druggists Association, said e-pharmacies would not only pose a threat to the business of small medicine traders but also affect the people in general.

"Among the many problems which masses would face is that they might be handed over wrong medicine by e-pharmacies. There are many doctors whose handwriting cannot be read easily. It is the people employed in the medicine shops who recognise what has been written on the prescription and provide it to the customers. The online pharmacies might not be able to address this problem. The online pharmacies would also not be able to shed light on the schedule on which patients have to take medicines. Though doctors mention it in the prescription but many don't understand what is written on the prescription and so are not able to decipher what is meant to be done. Many times , some medicines don't suit any person and the person gets it changed the second day at the medical store but these benefits cannot be availed from e pharmacies," said Santosh.

He said small medicine shop owners formed 90 per cent of their trade, and "all their establishments will be closed if the government allows e-pharmacies to operate".

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