Harsh punishment: Medicine distributors rally in Pindi

Threaten to strike unless Punjab govt drops proposed changes to law punishing store owners


Mudassir Raja February 06, 2017
WIDE GAP: 10,000 is the number of registered distributors and wholesalers compared to unregistered dealers who are 10 times higher. PHOTO: FILE

RAWALPINDI: In the wake of proposed amendments to the Drug Act which call for harsher penalties and heavy fines against distributors of spurious drugs, medicine distributors and chemists rallied in Rawalpindi on Monday to protest the move.

Members of the Association of Drug Stores and Distributors held a partial strike, as they shut down their businesses from 1pm to 4pm.

They rallied from Saddar and marched towards Rawalpindi Press Club on Benazir Bhutto Road.

Similarly, medicine distributors and drug store employees from Raja Bazaar, Commercial Market, Benazir Bhutto Road and Saidpur Road gathered at Committee Chowk and marched towards the Press Club near Liaquat Bagh.

The protesters chanted slogans against the proposed crackdown on the sale of fake or substandard medicines. They also raised placards and banners inscribed with messages against the proposed changes.

At the press club, Pakistan Manufacturers Association’s regional president Khawaja Asif, representative of distributors Chaudhry Munawar, and representative of medical stores Zahid Bakhtawari held a press conference where they warned the provincial government of extended protests if the proposed amendments there approved.

They also threatened to shut down their businesses if the amendments were implemented.

Arshad Awan, a representative of distributors and medical store owners, told The Express Tribune that the proposed amendments to the drug act would make the sale of expired, misbranded and substandard medicines a crime prescribing jail time of over six months without bail.

Moreover, sellers and manufacturers of spurious drugs could face a jail term between one to five years, in addition to a fine of Rs10million to Rs50million if found guilty.

Awan said that while they were not against the campaign against spurious drugs but anyone could make an honest mistake of misspelling labels or failing to remove expired drugs from shelves in time.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2017.

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