Nearly 9 lakh chemists across the country will shut shop today in protest against e-pharmacy, government's e-portal plan and "stringent" regulations on the sale of medicines that has cut retailers' margins.
According to the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), their several representations opposing the regulations on the sale of medicines in the country, submitted to the government, went unheeded, following which the one-day strike was called.
"We have been asked to upload all information related to sale of medicines on a portal, which is not possible with the existing infrastructure," said a senior member of AIOCD.
The chemists are also opposing online pharmacy, which they say, poses a threat to their business.
"The online pharmacy will also encourage irrational usage of medicines and sale of fake drugs," the AIOCD member said.
The government is deliberating upon e-pharmacy regulations to regulate and support online sale of drugs.
Following a government public notice in April on e-portal, the AIOCD had submitted a point-wise representation to the Health Ministry.
Chemists had served advanced notice to the government on May 27 putting across their concerns and informing it about the strike, the Times of India reported. They, however, refused to call off the strike despite intervention from the Health Ministry late on Monday evening.
"We have been putting across our concerns for very long. The government refused to listen to us all this while and did not even give us an appointment. Now, just hours before the strike they called us. We cannot call off the strike on such short notice and without any assurance," Sandeep Nangia, president, Retail Distributors Chemists Association, was quoted as saying by the daily.
Nangia said that emergency service pharmacies in and around hospitals will remain open.
Besides a24-hour strike from 12 midnight on May 29 till 12 midnight on May 30, the chemist body is also likely to hold a demonstration at Jantar Mantar today to highlight their concerns.