Scores of patients and attendants faced a lot of difficulties as medical stores remained closed in the city on Tuesday, the second consecutive day of the strike by drug manufacturers, distributors and sellers against amendment in Drug Act 1976 by Punjab government.
According to details, all the medical stores situated in cantonment areas, city areas, and private housing societies such as Bharia Town and DHA remained closed causing problems for the patients in need of medicines.
Meanwhile, the protestors set up two protest camps; one outside Al-Amin Plaza on the Mall Road near Military Hospital and the second at Bohar Bazaar, main market for medicines dealers dealing in wholesale in Rawalpindi.
The medical stores situated near Holy Family Hosptial, Benazir Bhutto Hosptial, and District Headquarter Hospital also remained closed.
Talking to the media men, Malik Arshad Awan, District President of All Pakistan Chemist and Druggist Association, said that they would continue their strike and protest against the provincial government for bringing in strict laws against manufacturers and distributors of drugs.
The manufacturers and distributors are up in arms against the government for amending the drug act and introducing new laws. Under the new laws, manufactures and sellers of spurious drugs have to face jail term from three to 10 years and fine from Rs 25 million to Rs 50 million.
The representative of the chemist explaining the concerns of his community said that the government did not need to include the distributors and retailers in the law. He said that the fake, spurious, and unregistered medicines were not prepared by the sellers. He said that the manufacturers needed to be held responsible. He said that the sellers could be held responsible for selling medicines with expiry dates.
He noted that the new punishments were harsh for the crime such as selling expired or misbranded medicines.
Amina Bibi, an attendant told The Nation, that she brought her son for medical treatment in OPD of DHQ but could not get his medicine because of closure of medical stores. “He is suffering with high fever and the doctors injected him instead of giving tablets or syrups,” she said.
The medical store owners should end strike and open the stores so that patients could purchase medicines, many other patients said. Meanwhile funeral prayer in absentia was offered for the martyrs of Mall Road Lahore carnage at Bohar Bazaar.
The Druggists, Pharmaceutical and Chemists Associations organised the funeral prayer which was attended by a large number of people and representatives of religious and political parties, including Malik Arshad Awan, Basit Abbasi, Dr Muhammad Zakriya, Raja Mushtaq and Sheikh Adil, the druggists’ elected representatives.
Following the prayer, the participants expressed their anger and grief over the killing of senior police officers, traffic wardens and chemists in a suicide blast on Mall Road during a protest against Punjab government for amending Drug Act 1976.
They also criticised the government for not providing proper security to the protestors in Lahore. They demanded earlier arrest of the perpetrators behind the suicide blast which claimed 13 precious human lives and caused severe injuries to 84 others.
Ahmad, Israr. Patients decry closure of medical stores. The Nation, February 15, 2017.