Chennai: Chemists down shutters against online drug sale

How can medicines be available sans prescription?

Chennai: Thousands of chemist shops across Tamil Nadu downed their shutters on Tuesday in protest against Union government’s decision to allow sale of drugs online, causing severe inconvenience to lakhs of people. However, nearly 40% of the chemist shops in Chennai were open as owners decided not to participate in the nationwide strike.

Several people, who went looking for chemist shops to buy medicines for various purposes, returned empty-handed as 60% of the outlets were shut owing to the strike.

The chemist shop owners are up in arms against the Union government’s decision to allow online sales of medicine claiming that several medicines, which are hitherto available only on prescription, would be sold without any regulations online.

“This move will spell the doom for many pharmacy owners since the onset of online shopping would be preferred by many. And we find it dangerous and also many shops would be closed. We want the move not to be implemented,” Selvan K K, general secretary of Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association, said.
However, T Natarajan, general secretary, Chemists and Druggist Association (CDA) of the Chennai Chapter, told Deccan Chronicle that of the total 30,000 medical shops in Tamil Nadu, almost 40 per cent in the city did not participate in the strike. “We did not close our shops since we did not want to lose our customers,” he said.

Though he opened his shop, Natarajan said he was still against the Union government’s proposal. “We are supporting the protest by wearing a black badge but we do not want to participate. Once the sale of drugs starts through Internet people will get unconditional accessibility to narcotic, habit-forming drugs and abortion and contraceptive pills,” he claimed.

Raj Kumar, a domestic help, had to cycle 4 km on Tuesday to buy medicines for his owner. “I did not find any shop near my locality. I travelled for 4 km to buy the medicines for my owner. If chemists also go on strike, what do we do?” he asked.

1.5 lakh hotels shut over GST

As many as 1.5 lakh hotels across Tamil Nadu downed their shutters on Tuesday protesting against the levy of 5-28% GST. The Tamil Nadu Hotels and Restaurants Association gave the shutdown call for the protest.

A total of six states was involved in the protest, including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and about nine lakh restaurants were closed.

“Our demand is to levy taxes rationally. Common man eating in a small hotel with Rs 50 lakh annual income will now have to pay five per cent tax. And if the same person makes a ‘mistake’ of going into an air-conditioned restaurant to get a respite from the heat, the tax escalates to 18%,” said K. Srinivasan, Secretary, Tamil Nadu Hotels and Restaurants Association.

Eating out was near impossible on Tuesday for college students who mostly depend on hotels for their meals. 20-year-old Sushanth complained that most of the restaurants were closed and he searched for an hour till he finally found a roadside eatery.

Almost all the hotels in tourist destinations like Ooty, Yercaud and Kodaikanal were also shut irking visitors. The total loss because of the dawn to dusk protest is estimated to be Rs 500 crore.

The associations say the strike will worsen if the Central Government does not react soon. With the GST Council scheduled to meet on June 3, the members of Tamil Nadu Hotels and Restaurants Association will meet Finance Minister of TN on June 1 and Chief Minister on the next day.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
Next Story