KATHMANDU, Nov 9: Hundreds of pharmacies across the country are running without registration for years. However, the government has not taken any action against such stores.
According to the Department of Drug Administration (DDA), there are about 18,000 pharmacies registered with the government. DDA officials admit that about 3,000 drug stores in the country are yet to be registered with the authority. “Around 10 to 15 percent pharmacies are operating without registration,” said Santosh KC, a drug administrator at the DDA. He also added that many of the registered stores have not renewed their licenses.
DDA officials said one needs to have a diploma in pharmacy or a bachelor's degree in pharmacy and training from the DDA to open pharmacy store.
DDA officials said that the illegal pharmacies were opened due to an over-production of community medical assistants or assistant health workers. Many such health workers who do not have diploma in pharmacy or bachelor's in pharmacy have been found operating illegal pharmacy shops, according to DDA officials. “Selling medicines is a profitable business which is why many people are operating illegal pharmacy shops,” said a DDA source.
According to the Drugs Act, 1978, anyone found guilty by a lawcourt of running a pharmacy shop without license could face a fine of Rs 25,000-300,000 and a jail term of up to three years or both. Currently there are no cases against any illegal pharmacy in court, officials said. About three years ago, the DDA had cracked down on illegal pharmacies and shut down 11 such pharmacies in the Kathmandu Valley.
The DDA has four offices throughout the nation -- the central office in Kathmandu and three others in Nepalgunj, Birgunj and Biratnagar with total staff of 115 including 31officers. DDA officials admit that they are unable to monitor the pharmacy stores across the country due to lack of manpower.
“We have limited manpower to monitor the drugstores throughout the country. We need at least 328 staff to run the office smoothly and carry out effective monitoring,” said KC. “We are adding 42 officers soon and intensifying the monitoring.”