Newsbrief: Indian Government Blinks in Face of Threatened Drug Shortage 2/11/05

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As DRCNet reported last week, medicinal drug wholesalers and retailers in India had threatened a total halt to sales of psychoactive drugs -- ranging from Valium to morphine and beyond -- beginning Thursday because of campaign of harassment and arrests by the country's newly zealous Narcotics Control Board (NCB). But according to a report Friday in the Hindu Business Line, anxious patients and drug manufacturers now have a three-week reprieve after the pharmaceutical industry, trade associations, and retail pharmacists won an assurance from the NCB that the agency would forward their concerns to the Finance Ministry and that appropriate changes would be made in the country's drug laws.

"Top officials of the NCB have assured us that they would recommend to the Finance Ministry to amend the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act and definite action on this would be taken in the next 10 days," said JS Shinde of the All-India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists.

The temporary reprieve came as shortages of medicines were being reported across the country. Beginning two weeks ago, pharmacists and drug retailers began moving to shut down sales of psychoactive medicines in an effort to pressure the Indian government to get the narcs to back off. Wholesalers had begun refusing to purchase the drugs from pharmaceutical companies in protest of NCB harassment, and existing stocks were running low. But pharmacists and drug retailers have set February 25th for a new drug strike if the Indian government fails to move on their complaints. Stay tuned.

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Issue #374 -- 2/11/05

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