Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – Medicine traders at Mitford in the capital Dhaka on Monday called for countrywide strike for Thursday if their demands were not met by that time.

“We want our colleagues to be released, sealed wholesale shops opened and money realised in fines returned by Thursday. Otherwise, we will continue the strike for an indefinite period,’ said Abdul Kader, a drug trader.

Meanwhile, director general of the Directorate General of Drug Administration Jahangir Hossain Mollik told reporters on the day said they would continue their drive against fake, substandard and unregistered medicine.

He said the authorities and the Rapid Action Battalion seized a huge quantity of vitamin tablets, antibiotics, pain killer, food supplements without the approval of the drug administration.

Earlier, Rapid Action Battalion, Drug Administration and Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution in a joint drive on Saturday seized a huge amount of fake and substandard medicines worth BDT 50 million at Mitford in old town of Dhaka.

A mobile court sentenced 20 medicine wholesalers to one year imprisonment, fined them BDT 12.50 million and sealed off 28 wholesale shops. A total of 77 cases were also filed against 103 medicine traders during the drive.

Later on, medicine traders in the area observed strike on Sunday, protesting at the drive.

The traders also continued their strike till Monday’s afternoon. Afterwards, they postponed the strike by giving ultimatums to the authorities. 
Talking to New Age, a local newspaper, Sadequr Rahman, president of Bangladesh Chemists and Druggists Association, said they had mainly three demands — release of the detained medicine businessmen and return of penalty money and seized medicines.

“If the authorities do not meet our demands, we will observe countrywide strike on Thursday,’ said Sadequr Rahman.
“The fines and sealing off the shops were just meant for harassment as those who import banned and illegal drugs have been spared,” he added.

He alleged that some dishonest officials of the Drug Administration take monthly toll from people who manufacture banned and fake medicines and harass the real businessman.

The traders said the doctors prescribe some medicines, some companies manufacture them and even Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution gives permission for their import. ‘What is wrong with us If we sell them,’ asked the traders.

However, DG of drug administration said wholesalers are selling low quality food supplements, which might pose serious threat to health.

It was also found during the drive that some of the shop owners were selling drugs stolen from different public hospitals, said the DG

Meanwhile, patients in the Mitford area suffered as the medicine shops were closed for almost two days.

They faced serious trouble as the drug shops in the emergency ward of the hospital were closed since Sunday, said Jakir Hossain, director of the Mitford Hospital.

BBN/SSR/AD-01Oct13-8:50 am (BST)