Guwahati: Due to a lack of a proper mechanism in the state, there has been a mushrooming of illegal pharmacies, fake doctors, and unauthorized nursing institutes, which are turning out to be a threat to public health.
A few days ago, the state Health Department sealed eight illegal pharmacies in a rural area that were operating without the requisite permissions and documentation.
According to sources, in order to open a pharmacy, there are certain conditions, like a full-time registered pharmacist, a drug licence, a shop and establishment licence, a minimum shop area of 120 sq. feet, and a refrigerator to store some important medicines, including life-saving ones.
Recently, the Pharmacy Council of Assam appealed to the state government to conduct an inquiry into the illegally-running pharmacy business across the state. The Health Department conducts drives to locate and take action against such illegal pharmacies but has been unable to stop the menace.
Sources said, “In Assam, the number of illegal pharmacies is more than one thousand. These are especially located in the markets of rural and remote areas. The illegal pharmacies do not have a registered pharmacist working full-time. Many are using the registration number of one pharmacist to operate several such illegal pharmacies.”
The salesmen of the illegal pharmacies are sometimes unable to read a prescription properly and may give the patient the wrong medicine, which can lead to dire consequences, said the source.
A source also mentioned that such illegal pharmacies typically store medicines of inferior quality to maximize profits.
On the other hand, fake doctors are being frequently apprehended, but the trend still continues in remote or rural areas. Interestingly, such fake doctors are identified only after three to four years of practicing medicine, when the damage is already done. Even the Gauhati High Court has sought information from the government on the steps taken to check fake doctors and action taken against those identified as such.
As a result of the increasing number of private nursing homes and government hospitals, the requirement for nurses has increased, and this fact has been utilized by some elements to make a fast buck by operating nursing institutes without proper authorization.