Mitford medicine shops kept shut

September 30, 2013

Protest Against Drive
Mitford medicine shops kept shut
Traders of the country’s largest wholesale medicine market in the capital’s Mitford yesterday kept their shops shut, protesting Saturday’s drive against the sale of illegal and unauthorised medicine. A mobile court jointly raided the market with the help of Rapid Action Battalion-10, the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA), and Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), and seized medicine worth Tk 5 crore.
A total of 94 people were arrested in this connection, and more than Tk 1.28 crore was realised in fines.
The traders alleged that the Rab personnel had harassed them, arrested their fellow traders, and seized their goods indiscriminately. They urged the Bangladesh Chemists and Druggists Samity (BCDS) to come up with measures to free the arrested traders.
Out of 94 arrestees, 22 are still serving different terms in jail, whereas the remaining 72 were freed after realising fines from them.
To realise their demands, the traders blocked the road in front of the BCDS Bhaban at Mitford from 9:00am to 4:00pm, causing untold sufferings to customers and outdoor patients of Mitford Hospital. The relatives of the patients were seen travelling to other parts of the country to collect medicine for their dear ones.
The traders claimed that the mobile court had considered the medicine sold at cheaper rate to be of substandard quality.
“It is the responsibility of the DGDA to check the quality of the medicine, and fix the price. They should fine the companies who produce these drugs, not us, the sellers,” one of the traders said.
Regarding import-banned items, traders questioned how it was possible for such items to have entered the country through following import procedures if they were banned.
“Doctors prescribe many of these items, and therefore, we have to keep those in the shops,” said Borhanuddin Ahmed, who was fined Tk 1 lakh for selling unauthorised foreign ointments and surgical items.
Another trader, who was fined Tk1 lakh, wishing anonymity, said he had tablets of Aventis Company in his shop. He questioned: “Is it my fault that the company did not put the Drug Administration Registration (DAR) number on it?”
Refuting the allegation of wholesale arrest, Sharif Md Forhad Hossain, magistrate of Rab-10, said, “Had the allegation of wholesale arrests been true, there could have been 500 detainees as we checked 500 shops and godowns. Out of these 500, we found problems only in 80 shops.”
Many of the shops did not have drug licences and pharmacists as per rule, he said.
In the absence of pharmacists, the traders themselves often cannot differentiate between the medicine of foreign original brands and approved drug companies from the counterfeit ones made in China, he added.
Forhad said they had found hundred percent doctor’s sample medicines at eight to nine shops.
Many previously registered local companies, which have been banned by the government, still use their previous DAR number. “It is often impossible for an uninformed person to notice this discrepancy,” he explained.
A source in the DGDA explained that a wholesale drug shop does not require a pharmacist, but a retailer does. “Most of the shops in the Mitford area have retail licences. But they have been carrying out wholesale business. Most of these shops do not have pharmacists.”
The source also rejected the version of BCDS Deputy Secretary ASM Monir Hossain, who claimed that expired medicine was not being sold at any shops in Mitford. “We found some expired medicines. But I cannot give the exact number right away,” he said.
The BCDS is scheduled to hold a meeting today around 11:00am to decide whether medicine traders across the country will keep their shops closed till the detained traders are released.
Monir Hossain also said around 2,000 medicine shops in 43 markets at Mitford were kept shut in protest of Saturday’s drive.

-With The Daily Star input

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