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TIME TO RESOLVE STRIP CUTTING ISSUE

Ramesh Shankar
Wednesday, September 15, 2021, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Strip cutting of medicines has been a major issue for the retail pharmacists in the country for quite some time now. In fact, a heated debate has been going on in the country on this issue for which a solution has been evasive so far, thanks mainly to the apathetical attitude of the drug authorities in the country.  For the last several years, arguments and counter-arguments have been flying thick and fast for and against the practice of cutting of strips by pharmacists. In fact, there is still a lot of confusion on the issue amongst the pharmacist community as well as the regulatory officials as there is no clear-cut provisions in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act whether strip cutting is allowed or not. This has resulted in regulatory officials taking different views on the matter. While some regulatory authorities are of the view that strips must be cut if a patient desires, or the doctor prescribes so, pharmacists argue that Section 65 of Drugs and Cosmetics Act being quoted by the drug authorities to make strip cutting compulsory is irrelevant today as it was formulated much before strips actually came into existence in the country.  Pharmacists contend that strip cutting is such an issue which neither the lawmakers, nor the FDA officials, nor the pharmaceutical industry, nor even the doctors can understand. It is finally the customers and the retail pharmacists who have to face the brunt of losses, risk of consuming wrong or expired medicines, as well as conflicts with each other.

As the debate on the issue is still going on, the fact remains that strip cutting is not a desirable practice as that can lead to sale of expired drugs to unsuspecting and illiterate customers. Given the fact that a sizeable percentage of our populace is still illiterate, strip cutting can actually help unethical practices to flourish in the country. It is obvious that when the strips are cut, the cut portion of the drug may not contain the details about expiry date, manufacturing date, batch number and even the name of the drug. It is a fact that almost every day, one or the other product strip size is increased or changed by the manufacturers, including the reputed ones. From 6 to 10 to 15 to 30, some strip sizes are now of 30, 40 & even 50. Such huge sizes of strips are certainly creating a chaotic situation. This increases the likelihood of cutting a strip. Otherwise, the consumers will have to shell out money for the entire strip which is not actually needed for them. Certainly, it is an unnecessary financial burden on the consumers. Definitely, the situation now calls for rationalization of strip sizes based on the therapeutic value, dosing and cost of the drug.

 

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