Nearly 9 lakh chemists all over India observed a day long strike on May 30 in support of their demands. The strike had been called by the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD). Retail chemist shops remained closed in almost all parts of the country, in support of the strike. A demonstration was also held at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, on the day of the strike.
Retail chemists have long been demanding a hike in retailers’ margins, which are currently fixed at 16%. They have been arguing that this margin is inadequate as the government and the regulator require them to maintain certain infrastructural facilities including air conditioning etc.
The agitating chemists are opposing recent changes in regulations made by the government, according to which they are required to upload all information related to sale of medicines on an e- portal. They feel they would have difficulty doing this with the existing infrastructure. They are also opposing online pharmacy, which poses a threat to their business and which, they feel, will encourage irrational usage of medicines and sale of fake drugs.
As reported in major newspapers, the chemists had served advance notice to the government putting across their concerns and informing it about the strike. They had also ensured that emergency service pharmacies in and around hospitals would remain open, so that people would not suffer because of their strike.
The president of the Retail Distributors Chemists Association told the media that they had repeatedly raised their problems with the government, but they were not even given an appointment with the authorities. A few hours prior to the strike, they were called by the health ministry for negotiations, but they refused to call off the strike.