Drug Mafia Nexus Grounds Fair Price Shop Project in JK
Akshay Azad (Greater Kashmir)
Jammu: The government’s proposal to open medicine fair price shops in the state has became a causality to strong doctor-pharma companies nexus as the government has so far failed to provide required logistics to Red Cross society entrusted to set up such outlets in the state.
Sources said that under a central-sponsored scheme, fair price shops, called Jan Aushadhi Drug Stores (JADS), were to setup to provide quality medicine to the patients at genuine rates, but the influential Pharma lobby with the help of doctors did not allow the implementation of the project. In its initial phase, the state Red Cross Society was asked to open fair price shops at six places including two in Kashmir division, two in Jammu, one each in Leh and Kargil but so far only two shops have been opened by Red Cross Society.
General Secretary Red Cross Society, Feroz Ahmed informed Greater Kashmir that due to non availability of space they were not able to open Fair price shops in Jammu. “We had proposed to open one shop in Government Medical College and Hospital Jammu and another at Gandhi Nagar Hospital in first phase” he said. He further said that the GMC administration had offered a space against huge rent but we had appealed to provide rent free space, after which the hospital administration asked to take up the matter with concerned minister. “We also met R S Chib for rent free space but nothing happened” he said, adding that the proposal to open shop at Gandhi Nagar Hospital also met the same fate.
During last around two years, he said, the RCS is able to open only two shops including one in Leh and one at its own office in Srinagar, while the third at Anantnag was yet to be inaugurated. “We were only able to open fair price store at Leh after winning a case in High Court against Pharma companies” he said, alleging that the nexus of drug mafia was hampering the project.
Divulging details about quality and price of generic medicines sold in JADS, Feroz Ahmed said that the medicines sold at JADS were far cheaper than those available at private medical stores. “Some of our medicines are four to five times cheaper than the medicines being sold in private shops while others are 200 to 300 times cheaper” he said, adding that even majority of doctors were also not in favour of opening of fair price shops owing to their nexus with pharma companies for huge commission .
He said that the Red Cross Society would open shops at every tehsil if authorities would provide it required space. Minister for Medical Education RS Chib and Minister for Health Sham Lal Sharma were not available to comment.