Illegal drug stores go unchecked across nation
KATHMANDU, Nov 8: Several drug stores across the country are running without registration for years. However, the government has not worked significantly to bring them under the book.
According to the Department of Drug Administration (DDA), there are about 18,000 pharmacy stores legally operating by getting registered in the government.
Dozens of pharmacy stores, as many as some 10,000, across the nation are operating illegally. The DDA formally claims that about 3,000 drug stores in the country are yet to be registered with the authority. “Around 10 to 15 percent additional pharmacy stores, of total registered drug stores, are running without registration,” said Santosh KC, Drug Administrator at the DDA. "Not all the registered ones have updated their license with renewal."
Officials at the DDA said that the drug stores do not register them with the DDA, the regulatory body, as it is mandatory to get certificate on any of Diploma in Pharmacy, Bachelor in Pharma and training provided by the DDA to open pharmacy and sell the drugs.
“However, many health related manpower have been operating drug stores without holding license to sell the drugs,” they said. “It is more offending that the illegal drug sellers are selling anti-biotic without referral from the doctors,” they added.
The DDA officials said that the illegal pharmacies were opened due to an over-production of community medical assistants or assistant health workers. “Though they are not allowed to sell medicinal products, they have been selling drugs by opening illegal stores as it is a lucrative business,” said the DDA source.
As per the Drugs Act, 1978, the penalty for running a pharmacy without a license is a fine of Rs 25,000-Rs 300,000 and a jail term of up to three years. For taking action, cases should be registered at the district courts. However, no case is at any of courts now, according to the DDA. The DDA took action against 11 pharmacies, which were forced to shut down about three years ago, in the Kathmandu valley for operating without a valid license.
The DDA has four offices throughout the nation, namely central office in Kathmandu, and others in Nepalgunj, Birgunj and Biratnagar with total staff of 115 including 31 officers. However, the DDA has been unable to monitor the drug stores operating in the country and taking necessary action against them. It is reported that some of the pharmacy stores are involved in selling narcotic drugs.
“We have limited manpower to monitor the drug stores thoroughly in the country. We need at least 328 staff to run the office smoothly and carry out effective monitoring,” said KC. “Now we monitor during the office hours while the pharmacy stores are closed and they open in the morning and evening,” he added. “We are adding 42 0fficers soon and intensifying the monitoring from morning to evening.”