Chemists in panic mode as lockdown hits supply chain

The chemists and pharmacists here today alleged that the authorities were not allowing them to move, which is hampering dispensation of medicines.

The government of India has announced 21-day lockdown to curb spread of pandemic coronavirus which has claimed 11 lives so far in the country. Only exemption from lockdown is the essential services including the supply and distribution of medicines.

According to estimates there are around 6000 chemist shops and around 1000 drug wholesalers in Kashmir province, who ensure supply of medicines to patients. However, the medicine distributors as well as chemists said they were worried as the authorities have not provided them any movement passes which is “hampering our work”.  To add to it, the lockdown which has forced closure of surface as well air link to Kashmir has made them fearful that their existing stock won’t last more than 15 days. “Government has announced lockdown; we wholeheartedly support it as it is for the benefit of the people, but at the same time there is no direction to the security personnel to allow us free movement in order to perform our job,” said President, Kashmir Chemist and Druggist Association, Fayaz Azad.

“Authorities must understand there is supply chain which ensures supply of medicines to patients. If our suppliers or their workers are not allowed to move, how can medicines reach patient,” Azad said adding that “government of J&K must devise a mechanism to ensure supply of medicines to Kashmir as our road and air traffic has been halted.” Azad urged chemists and druggists in Kashmir to “rationalize” dispensation of medicines. “There are some instances where people demand medicines in bulk quantity, chemists should desist as it would lead to artificial scarcity.” Bashir Ahmad, a pharmacist while commenting on the problems confronted by them said, “Government must issue movement passes to people working in the supply chain of medicines so that there is no shortage of drugs.”