Staff crunch in Thiruvananthapuram to hit supply of medicines
By Prabhat Nair | ENS | Published: 12th August 2013 08:49 AM |
The government’s initiative to ensure the smooth supply of drugs in retail pharmacies in the aftermath of the implementation of the new Drug Price Control Order, is facing hurdles with only 52 drug inspectors for the more than 20,000 licenced medical shops in the state. Health Minister V S Sivakumar has given instructions to deploy more squads of drug control enforcement officials to ensure that there is no artificial shortage of drugs in retail medical pharmacies.
"The drug inspectors are the officials authorised to inspect the shops. But there are only 52 drug inspectors in Kerala and they have to conduct checks at the medical shops. This has to be viewed in the backdrop that there are more than 20,000 licenced shops in the state,’’ said Kerala State Drugs Control Enforcement Officers Association state president M R Pradeep.
With the department having only drugs controller, 2 deputy drug controllers, 7 assistant controllers, 6 regional drug inspectors and two inspectors in the special intelligence wing, the government’s efforts to monitor the supply of medicines are going to be ineffective, he said. ‘’It is practically not possible to deal with all the shops in the state. In larger districts, there may be at least five drug inspectors. But in the other districts it is not possible to conduct foolproof inspections with one or two inspectors,’’ Pradeep said. Apart from the regular inspection, the drug inspectors also have other duties such as court duties. ‘’On an average a drug inspector may have five court duties,’’ he said.
Stressing the need for more personnel, Pradeeep said the government should have to see that more drug inspectors are appointed. ‘’There was a proposal for one drug inspector for every 200 shops in the Public Assurances committee in 2009. We demand that at least this ratio is ensured for an effective enforcement mechanism,’’ he said. Moreover, he claimed that the department was short of vehicles. ‘’The department has just four vehicles, which makes it difficult to reach the remotest parts of a district,’’ he said. When contacted, State Drugs Controller P Hariprasad said that the inspection was now being carried on from where complaints are raised about the non-availability of drugs. When asked if it was practical to conduct raids with the present staff, he said that the officers of the Intelligence wing are also being deployed for the task.