All Pakistan Chemist Association and its workers went on a province-wide strike in Punjab after the government made amendments to the Drug Act 1976. The new Drug Act 2017 has changed some medicinal policies and also imposes sanctions to individuals who sell sub-standard drugs.
Chemists are protesting throughout Punjab with medical stores, pharmacies, and chemists been closed down in areas including Rawalpindi, Vehri, Narowal, Chishtian, Kasur, Multan, Faisalabad, Lahore, Sadiqabad, Sialkot and several other cities. Reportedly, one of the groups belonging to the association has backed off and will not conduct any further strikes.
Stores close to Services Hospital in Lahore are completely shuttered. However, some pharmacies and medical stores are still open in the vicinity of Ganga Ram and Mayo Hospital.
Harsher Punishments Lead to Strikes
The latest amendments to the Drug Act state that those selling counterfeit and unsafe drugs will face up to 6 months to 5 years of imprisonment. These penalties will also apply to those in charge of quality control as well as the relative staff if they are caught producing drugs that do not meet the prescribed safety standards.
Depending on the severity of adulteration and mismanagement, quality control personnel will be be fined anywhere from Rs 1 crore to 5 crore. Moreover, the policy change also makes it mandatory for a qualified druggist to be present at a pharmacy at all times to make sure that substandard drugs are not sold.
The protesters are demanding the government takes by the new changes and revert back to Drug Act 1976 in order to ensure continuity of their businesses.
Its unclear when the protests will end, therefore people are advised to stock up on necessary and essential medicines as soon as possible.