FDA: Free to buy medicines from any licenced outlet

FDA directs display boards with clear instructions be put up in hospitals, health centres

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 08:46 PM IST
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Mumbai: The Maharashtra Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has directed all the registered health hubs to display sign boards stating that people could purchase drugs from any licensed store of their choice. The sign board should be displayed such that it is easily visible to patients and their relatives, says a circular issued by the state FDA in a letter dated December 9.

The move came after the FDA received several complaints against hospitals forcing patients and their attendants to buy medicines only from in-house or select pharmacies.

The FDA in its official circular has reminded the Divisional Joint Commissioners, Assistant Commissioners, and Drug Inspectors (Drugs) that it is illegal for hospitals to force patients to buy medicines only from their affiliated drug stores. This is against the Medicines and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

“The hospitals need to put up boards mentioning that patients or their relatives can buy medicines from any registered pharmacy,” an FDA official said.

Senior FDA officials confirmed that they have been receiving complaints following which the directive was circulated to all the hospitals. “We have circulated the letter on WhatsApp groups of hospitals, similar to what we had done during the Covid times. We have also told our medicine inspectors to circulate the FDA letter to hospitals under their jurisdiction. We will also send emails to the official addresses of hospitals,” they said.

Meanwhile, health activists have welcomed this move stating it will benefit patients and their relatives who are always charged more by the in-house pharmacies.

“We usually see hospitals or doctors tie up with the chemists next to hospitals or refer patients to drugstores from where they get a commission. This directive will help patients to choose where they want to buy their medicines from.

“However, the FDA has to keep a close tab on it as everytime any order is issued, people come up with new ideas to work around the directive as they all know no action will be taken,” said an activist on condition of anonymity.

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