Ctg drugstores playing with people’s lives

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Executive Magistrate of Chittagong District Administration Ruhul Amin
Publication Date: 15 November, 2015
Owners of drugstores in Chittagong are taking advantage of the infinite faith placed in them and deceiving the masses by selling expired medicines, sub-standard food supplements, and physician samples; said Executive Magistrate of Chittagong District Administration  and Deputy Revenue Collector Ruhul Amin in an exclusive interview with The Independent on Wednesday. Ruhul informed that the people of Bangladesh have infinite faith in medicines prescribed by doctors. So much so, they don’t haggle when it comes to medicine prices. It is this faith which is being exploited by unscrupulous owners of pharmacies, he stressed.
Ruhul has been involved in a campaign against errant pharmacies in Chittagong since July 7 this year. From November 12, 2015 till date, he has conducted 118 mobile courts, slapped fines amounting to Tk. 1511500 on 123 errant pharmacies, sealed off 25 drugstores, sentenced three persons to prison, and seized expired medicines and physician samples worth Tk. 980000.
Elaborating on the problem, he said there is a tendency to approach drugstore owners for medicines, either verbally or with prescriptions but the owners end up selling sub-standard medicines to people. Moreover, pharmacies, even the more famous ones, do not have any pharmacists on board. “I think 99.5 per cent pharmacies don’t have any pharmacists which is alarming!” noted Ruhul.
He said at least 80 per cent drugstore owners are unaware of rules concerning drug licenses. What’s more, they are unaware of the existence of drug administration and usually go to the Somity Office (association of pharmacy owners) to renew their drug licenses.
Leaders of these offices get their drug licenses renewed from drug administration.
Further, Ruhul said at least 60 per cent of these drugstores are dirty, dusty and unhygienic.
Ninety per cent shops do not know how to preserve medicines at the required temperature. In some drugstores,
medicines are stored in refrigerators along with meat and fish and some of these fridges don’t even have electricity connections.
In the course of the interview, Ruhul observed that some drugstore owners are illegally importing medicines from countries like India.
For instance, they are importing Saridon from India which is not approved by drug administration.
Speaking of physician samples which are tax-free, he said 30 per cent of medicines in shops in Chittagong are physician samples.
Sometimes, all the medicines in shops are physician samples. Recalling his own experience, he said, “We found that eighty per cent of a certain food supplement is being manufactured in Hazari Lane, Chittagong while the label says it is imported from USA or Europe. In fact, there are over 150 companies manufacturing this food supplement in Dhaka and Chittagong alone and none of them has any license or approval.”
Asked if he faced resistance while conducting mobile courts, Ruhul said it was a smooth process thanks to the Deputy Commissioner of Chittagong District Administration and media personnel. Besides, people perceived it as a movement against illegal medicines and drugstores, he emphasised.
Asked what measures are being taken to stop government medicines from being supplied to pharmacies, he said, “District administration, drug administration and journalists are working together to stop this. We are working at the field level, ransacking illegal medicines.”
Asked if nurses or doctors are involved in smuggling government medicines from hospitals, Ruhul said there were allegations against Basana Devi, a senior staff nurse from Chittagong General Hospital and Runa Barua, a senior staff nurse from Faujdarhat TB Hospital, DC (Mesbah Uddin) in which case, they directly wrote to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Director General of Health Services, Private Secretary of Health Minister, and Civil Surgeon.
Ruhul said they are conducting mobile courts, writing letters to the Civil Surgeon whenever they come across government medicines in pharmacies however the rest depends on authorities. “Only forming committees without working at the field level will not help. All concerned authorities have to work in tandem with district administration to end this.
I want doctors and nurses to join our movement. I also want a representative of the Civil Surgeon, a representative of BMA, and a representative of the businessman to join us during mobile courts,” he said.
To all such errant pharmacies and drugstores, Ruhul had only this to say: “My request to owners of pharmacies is that while you are selling such medicines to people, put your son, daughter or mother in their position and think how you would feel. Think about the people closest to
Shamsuddin Illius
Shamsuddin Illius is a print and online media journalist. He has been working in the field (fulltime) of journalism since 2010. He is very much passionate about journalism since his early age. Currently he is the Bureau Chief-Chittagong at The Business Standard.

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