RAWALPINDI: Notwithstanding the fact that a protest by pharmacists and chemists was attacked in Lahore on Monday, owners of pharmacies and medical stores observed a shutter down strike in the garrison city on Tuesday
This is the second consecutive day of a strike by drug manufacturers, distributors and sellers.
All medical stores located in cantonment, city areas, and private housing societies such as Bharia Town and DHA remained closed causing problems for patients.
Medical stores and pharmacies situated near Holy Family Hospital, Benazir Bhutto Hospital, and District Headquarter Hospital also remained closed.
Unlike Monday, the protesters did not take out a protest rally on Tuesday. Instead, they set up two protest camps in the city. One of the camps was located outside Al-Amin Plaza on Mall Road near the Military Hospital. The second was at Bohar Bazaar, the main market for medicine wholesalers in Rawalpindi.
Protesting against recent amendments to the Punjab Drug Act 1976 which introduced harsh punishments for the manufacture and sale of spurious medicines, the pharmacists have vowed to continue their strike till their demands are met.
Malik Arshad Awan, the district president of All Pakistan Chemists and Druggists Association, told media that they would continue their strike and protest against the provincial government for bringing in strict laws against drug manufacturers and distributors.
The manufacturers and distributors are up in arms against the government for amending the drug act and introducing new laws. Under the new laws, manufactures and sellers of spurious drugs could face jail term from three to 10 years and pay fines from Rs25 million to Rs50 million.
Awan, while explaining the concerns of his community, said that the government did not need punish the distributors and retailers in the law.
Later, they offered funeral prayers in absentia at Bohar Bazaar for those who died in the blast in Lahore on Monday.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2017.
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