Odisha chemists, retailers join 24-hour nationwide strike

Bhubaneswar: Thousands of medicine stores and retail businesses remained closed in Odisha as they joined a nationwide strike today.

While the chemists are protesting against the Centre’s decision to allow operation of e-pharmacies, the retailers are protesting against the approval to 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the retail sector.

Nearly 4,000 medicine wholesale points and 22,000 retail outlets across Odisha remained shut as the Utkal Chemists and Druggists Association (UCDA) extended support to the nationwide strike called by All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD).

However, the drug stores inside medical colleges and government-run hospitals remain open.

“We strongly oppose the Centre’s move to bring in online pharmacies. The Association will resort to an indefinite strike if the demands are not met at the earliest,” UCDA General Secretary Prashant Mohapatra said.

E-pharmacy would largely affect the livelihood of lakhs of chemists’ families, besides depriving people access to good quality medicines, he added.

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Sudhakar Panda, President of Odisha Chapter of Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), said around 6.35 crore retailers across the country, including 20 lakh from Odisha, joined the strike to showcase their protests against the Centre’s decision to allow FDI in the Indian market.

He said the Association demands repeal of the permission for FDI in the retail sector that will affect the livelihood of lakhs of people in the country.