SIALKOT/KAMALIA/NOORPUR THAL/ TOBA TEK SINGH/OKARA -The chemists here observed complete shutdown against the amended Punjab Drugs Act 2017 for the second consecutive day.

On the appeal of Punjab Chemists Council (PCC) and the Punjab Chemists and Druggists Association, the protesters kept their medical stores and pharmacies closed. They said that the Drugs Act was not acceptable in its present shape.

Meanwhile, the people suffered great difficulties in getting medicines as the medical stores were kept closed almost whole the day as part of their anti-Drug Act strike.

They were carrying agitational banners and placards. They also chanted anti-government slogans, demanding early withdrawal of the amended Drugs Act. They took out rallies in Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial , Pasrur and Zafarwal tehsils and other parts of Punjab province. Strike was also observed Kamalia, Noorpur Thal, Rangpur Baghoor, Adhi Kot, Jaura Kalan and villages of the tehsil. They caused a lot of hardship and inconvenience to the patients in getting required medicines.

The Medical Store Owners Association called upon the government to withdraw the amended Drugs Act 2017 which is what they said tantamount to their economic murder.

All the medical stores remained closed in Kamalia. The public expressed their dissatisfaction over the situation. The people stated that the matter between the chemists and the Punjab government had been prolonged beyond reasonable time causing problems for the already suffering patients and their families. The people called upon the Punjab government to quickly resolve all the issues with the medical store owners and to put an end to the strike.

In Toba Tek Singh, District Chemists and Druggists Association leader Imran Manzoor said that the strike would continue on Saturday too. He said Drug Act 2017 was a black law under which medical stores were being sealed by the government officials on different pretexts but this will give nothing to the country except unemployment of thousands of people related to the business. He demanded to stop the actions against medical stores.

Speakers in Okara including Mudassar Ahmad Khan and Tayyab Ch said that nearly 500 medicine store and pharmacy were in the district and among these more than 80 percent of the store owners were just earning their livelihood and were unable to follow the rules. In 2017, the rules to carry on the business were imposed including the compulsion of a B-pharmacist, air conditioner to maintain temperature of the store room with complete door glasses and stander exhaust fan. The different categories of the medical store falls as A and B with the medicine distribution set-up and the pharmaceutical set up with a qualified person at least B pharmacist mandatory.

Similarly the medical store of the B categories can only be established under the Punjab Pharmacy Council under rules 2007. It was told that earlier qualified dispenser would run the medicine store business which was against the Drug Act and the authority banned such stores run by dispenser, they said.

They told that the categories B licence cannot sell out the medicines scheduled under G categories which includes all types of vaccines and antibiotics. In fact this G scheduled types of medicine have become grey area with full discretionary powers with the checking authority. Here, starts the misuse of discretionary powers and it is important to mention that the authority can impose minimum fine of Rs 0.5 million, they said.

They said, "A qualified pharmacist was mandatory during the business hours, but we only take and sell the manufactured medicines from the market. This is the point to which the chemists call it the black law imposed against the ground reality. Until such controversial and discretionary power are there, the protest will go on."