Health Ministry proposes to allow Nurses, Community health workers to store, dispense medicines; Pharmacists see Red
New Delhi: With the central government moving to permit many allied healthcare practitioners including Community Health Officers, Nurses, Auxiliary Nurse Midwives and Lady Health Visitors to store and dispense drugs without the need for license under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, the pharmacist fraternity is now seeing red.
The policy move will effectively do away with the need of having a qualified pharmacist and bring about the end of pharmacist profession, many in the profession stated.
Through a recent draft Gazette notification, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) announced about its plan to amend the provisions of Schedule-K in the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 on order to allow community healthcare workers to store and dispense drugs at public healthcare centres.
As per the latest draft rules;
In the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, in Schedule K, against serial number 23, for the entries under the column "Class of Drugs", the following shall be substituted, namely:―
"Drugs supplied by (i) Health Functionaries including Community Health Officers, Nurses, Auxiliary Nurse Midwives and Lady Health Visitors attached to Primary Health Centres/ Sub-Centres/ Health & Wellness Centres in rural and urban areas, (ii) Community Health Volunteers such as Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) under the National Health Mission, and (iii) Anganwadi Workers."
This put into policy would simply imply that the abovementioned healthcare workers would not be required under the act to hold a license for storing and dispensing drugs at Primary Health Centres/ Sub-Centres/ Health & Wellness Centres in rural and urban areas
The draft has indeed drawn condemnation from the pharmacy professionals, many of whom took to social media calling the move " Doom for pharmacy profession".
With the government putting the draft policy in public domain and inviting comments, pharmacists across the country expressed displeasure and asked the Government to withdraw the draft as it poses a great threat to the Profession of Pharmacy as a whole.
The Indian Pharmacist Association (IPA), opposed the move.
Speaking to Medical Dialogues team Bhupendra Kumar, General Secretary, Indian Pharmacist Association (IPA) the largest association of registered pharmacists of India stated, "This move is the violation of various provisions of Drugs and Cosmetic Act which empowers only pharmacists for Dispensing and storing the medicines. This is also a violation of Section 42 of the Pharmacy Act 1948, according to which only a Registered Pharmacist can dispense medicines to a patient on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner. Govt is also violating article 21 and article 16 of the Indian Constitution."
- Interpretation, evaluation and implementation of medical orders, dispensing of prescriptions.
- Participation in drug and device selection, drug administration, drug regimen review and drug or drug-related research.
- Provisions of patient counselling and the provisions of those acts or services necessary to provide pharmaceutical care in all areas of patient care including primary care.
- Responsibility for compounding and labelling of drugs and devices, proper and safe storage of drug and devices and maintenance of proper records for them.
"Professions are meant to serve the citizens with specialization and a Professional of any area functions better in his profession than any layman, so is the case with pharmacists," he stated.
Pointing to the harmful effects, the policy may spell for patients, he said that with this self-medication will increase and Antibiotic resistance will also increase and a new generation of antibiotic will also be ineffective after some time.
"Life of Citizens will be in danger because medicine is a POISON if not taken as per the required dosage," the IPA GS added