May 16, 2021 9:37:13 pm
When a senior IAS officer went to return the unused Favipiravir tablets to one of the popular pharmacy chains in Ahmedabad, thinking it might be of use for others amid shortage of Covid medicines, he was declined with the pharmacy citing a “policy” of not taking the Covid medicines back citing them to have been “infected”.
When checked, it was revealed that in the absence of any directives from the state Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA), most of the pharmacists in the city have adopted this “policy” while a few “oblige” on the basis of the trust and customer base.
“I purchased the medicine Fabiflu — 3 strips (51 tablets; copy of the bill enclosed) from your store stationed at Science City Road, Sola, Ahmedabad on 11/04/2021. As per physician’s advice, 34 tablets (2 strips) were used. One strip remained unused which costs more than Rs 1,200/-. I tried to return the same to your store on 3rd May 21.
The person who was dealing with the sale, denied to accept and said that the medicines which were sold for the treatment of Covid patient, can’t be taken back as per your policy,” the officer complained to the pharmacy through an email, on May 11, after being declined despite being a registered customer of the pharmacy chain.
The same day, another mail was shot to the Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA) citing “the medicine shops (to) have started this type of activity which is against the provisions of consumer protection Act” and requesting to take necessary actions to prevent the activities which are against interest of consumers. The reply from FDCA is awaited.
“On one side we are facing shortage of medicines and on the other hand, these medicines are going waste. I bought the medicines for my sister but when I went to return the unused ones to the pharmacy, I was told by the incharge that since they are used by Covid patients, these get infected and they cannot take it back. This is sheer highhandedness of pharmacies. Also, being costly, the money returned from the unused medicines can be of use for the families,” said the officer, requesting anonymity.
Gujarat Drugs Association chairman Jasubhai Patel said, “Though there is no policy, the retailers have instructions from the distributors who say they are directed by the companies not to take Favipiravir tablets back. We have been told by the companies that with the hike in raw material prices, they are not increasing the price but putting this condition to not take back unused medicines.”
Gujarat Pharmacy Council secretary Montu Patel stated that it is entirely the responsibility of the pharmacist and there are no rules from the companies.
“There is no policy as such. Also, the exccuse of Covid medicine getting infected is baseless. I agree these medicines are expensive and in short supply, so except some technical reasons such as the batch number or expiry missing from cut strips, pharmacists should take it back and some are taking these back from their regular customers,” he said.
FDCA commissioner Dr H G Koshia could not be contacted.
Amid short supply and pharmacies not accepting these unused medicines that are going waste lying with the patients who have either recovered or who have deceased, students of Gujarat Technological University (GTU) have started a campaign to collect unused medicines and provide them to needy people.
“Over 10,000 members of the National Service Scheme NSS attached to different units of Gujarat Technological University in the state will launch this service project from May 18 to June 10. NSS members would move in their six zones across the state and collect the medicines which would be sent to GTU headquarters at Chandkheda. After proper verification by experts pharmacists and doctors these will be distributed free of cost to needy people across the state,” GTU Vice-Chancellor Prof Navin Sheth said.
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