GUWAHATI, April 2 - With the 21-day nationwide lockdown entering its halfway stage, medicine supply to chemists has been hit despite the fact that those are exempted from the purview of the shutdown.
The problem has been more acute in pharmacies across small towns in the State. Even in the State capital, many chemists were facing difficulties in providing life-saving drugs to customers due to disruption in the supply chain.
A pharmacy owner at Jamugurihat said there had been a big shortage of baby food items such as Nan, Cerelac, Lactogen, etc., while stocks of some other essential medicines were also depleting.
�The penchant for panic buying among the affluent has added to the problem. Unless baby food items are restocked, the situation can turn alarming. Similarly, many aged and ailing people require a consistent supply of medicines and a sudden shortage can be fatal for them,� he said.
Echoing his concerns, another drug store owner at Tezpur said that a shortage of baby food � and to some extent life-saving drugs as well � was affecting the town and the government authorities needed to streamline the supply chain at the earliest.
�It�s only halfway into the lockdown and the situation can turn really bad. We hope the authorities would address the lacunae hindering supply,� he added.
Inter-state transport challenges have been a major factor in making things difficult for the chemists. �The lockdown has made it difficult to reach to the retailers and if it is not eased, we will run out of supplies within next week,� another chemist said.
The All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists had earlier warned the Centre of a severe shortage of medicine unless the government ensured smooth functioning of the supply chain.
Citing the problems chemists and suppliers are facing all over the country, the organisation said the transportation challenges were resulting in disruption to the supply chain. The distributors were facing it difficult to get supplies from warehouses due to the lockdown and supply it to the chemists.
There have also been allegations of avoidable restrictions being imposed by local police on the mobility of those associated with the supply, distribution and transportation of medicines, raw materials and components to make masks, sanitizers and other medical devices to the factories and manufacturing plants which are holding up production, adding to shortage.