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Times of India
14 June 2010
Chennai, India

Doctors in the dock for selling sample medicine sans bills
In the last two weeks, the directorate of drugs control has slapped cases against three doctors –one in the suburbs and two in the districts –under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act for selling drugs to patients without valid license or bills. This, the authorities say, is only the beginning of a state–wide crackdown.

The directorate is also planning to rope in the support of Indian Medical Association and the Tamil Nadu Medical Council to ensure that drugs are not sold across the counter without valid licence even by doctors.

“It’s mandatory to have a licence and maintain inventories and bills for sale of drugs. We found that some doctors receive drugs including vaccines for children as free samples or at a subsidised rate. Doctors are not allowed to sell these drugs but we found some of them selling it to patients. There are no records, bills or inventories for this,” says drug control director M Bhaskaran.

Two weeks ago a doctor in Padi was issued notices for having a medical store with no license attached to his hospital. In Tiruchi and Pudukottai districts, doctors in private practice we found dispensing drugs from the hospitals. “We have taken this seriously now. We will be taking to the medical associations and councils asking them to create awareness among doctors,” he said.

At a time when the state government is attempting to streamline the manufacture, storage and sale of drugs, such sales by doctors could hamper drug safety, the directorate felt. “Unless the chain is established it is difficult to find whether the drug is substandard or spurious. In the past experience we found the problem with relabelled and substandard drugs were primarily because of unauthorised persons involving themselves,” said a senior drug inspector.

In the past few weeks, drug inspectors have also been visiting clinics and hospitals as a part of the routine check to ensure that the licensed pharmacies and counters attached to hospitals are storing drugs at right temperatures. “Certain drugs like vaccines will have to be refrigerated and preserved under specific temperatures. In case of power outage there should be sufficient back–up to maintain temperature else the drugs may not be potent. As a routine we check if the storage rules are maintained,” the inspector said.

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