The ongoing 21-day nationwide lockdown has hit hard the supply of medicines by South Kolkata pharmacies, as they failed to provide basic medicines to people with heart, kidney and nervous system problems, during the beginning of this month.
By Bibek Baidya
The Central Government rule states that during the lockdown period all essential commodities should be provided to the consumers. Although medicines are enlisted as one of the essential commodities, yet the leading pharmacies of the area have failed to provide those medicines to their consumers on time.
Avishek Yadav, a resident in South Kolkata struggled to get some medicines for his mother, who is a heart patient. He said, “My mother has been a heart patient since last four years and she needs a regular dose of heart medicines. We used to buy medicines on a monthly basis but after the lockdown we are unable to purchase these for the month of April.. I visited many pharmacies in South Kolkata. Some of them told me that it will take 6-7 days to supply these medicines.”
One of the employees of Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences ( RTIICS) said, “ We receive almost 250 cases of heart diseases in a month, ranging from surgery to minor heart attacks.”
A pharmacy owner, Prasanta Karmakar, in South Kolkata said, “The old stock of these medicines is over, and the supply of new stock is not enough, which is why we are unable to provide these medicines.”
An employee of Apollo Pharmacy in the area said, “Due to the lockdown the transportation services have been hit too, which sometimes make it difficult for us to supply the medicine on time. The entire supply chain has been affected due to COVID-19.”
The Fair price medicine outlet in government hospital of West Bengal, also failed to provide medicines on time due to the huge surge in demand because of the lockdown. A kidney transplant patient Mr. Jothi Prasand Baruah, received his medicine after four days. He said, “I had a kidney transplant in 2018, and since then I require medicines on a daily basis. So, after facing disappointment from several pharmacies, I had to go to the government outlets, where I finally received my medicines after four days.”
An official of the Frank Ross pharmacy—one of the leading medicine supplier in Kolkata, said, “One of the biggest issues we are facing is of unavailability of transport and the other is lack of labour. Most of the truck drivers are not willing to work in this situation, which has led to the scarcity of these special medicines.”
Amitabha Nandi, Medicine Department Chief of SSKM hospital said, “In the current situation, it will take time for many pharmacies to provide with these kinds of medicines. Although government pharmacies are trying to provide them to the patients, but the demand is much higher than the supply, and hence it is taking supply bit longer.”
Raja Rai, a heart surgeon at RTIICS and Medica Super specialty Hospital said, “If the patient has recently recovered from a heart attack or surgery, he/she cannot miss a medicine for even a single day. But if the patient has recovered more than a year ago, he/she can skip a maximum two days of medicine, as after that it would become risky.”