In order to protest against the 'illegal' online sale of medicines, 800,000 chemist shops remained shut all over India on Wednesday.
"The threat of drug addiction in youth is largely due to the easy availability of drugs online. Drugs are sold online in developed countries, but the same cannot be done in India," president of the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) JS Shine told the Press Trust of India.
"We may resort to indefinite strike if the centre fails to resolve the issue immediately," he added.
According to the AICOD, online pharmacies are in violation of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. The organisation has submitted a list of demands to several authorities, including the Prime Minister's Office, the Health Ministry and the Drug Controller General of India.
"Online sales of medicines pose as a great threat to consumers. They could also have an adverse reaction (side effect)," Prasad Danave, president of Retail and Dispensing Chemist Association told DNA.
Although the government is yet to take a decision on this matter, those who are in the business of providing medicines online said that online drug stores give consumers more options. "In today's age of rise of online and mobile-centric-consumption, pharmacies cannot be restricted to provide medicines in shops. If the consumer perceives this as a more convenient and value providing format, there will be pressure to deliver," Surendra Mantena, chief operating officer of MedPlus told Times Of India.
According to reports, chemists from across the country are holding protests at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and at Azad Maidan in Mumbai. They refused to call off the strike despite the intervention of the Health Minister.