Majority Of Retail Shops In Bihar Run On Wholesale Licenses

Majority Of Retail Shops In Bihar Run On Wholesale Licenses

Chennai, 11 June 2019: The number of wholesale licenses (Form 20B and 21B) granted for supplying pharmaceutical products across Bihar is four to five times more than the number of retail licences (Form 20 and 21) issued for local sales, even as the number of medical shops is steadily increasing every year, according to a statistical data of new licenses granted from July 2018 to June 2019.


Similarly, the number of Restricted Licenses (RL) granted in Form 20A and 21A is also bigger in most of the districts than the ordinary retail licenses. Restricted license is issued only to sell OTC products and it does not want the supervision of a Registered Pharmacist. But the license allows in places where the population is not more than five thousand and it targets only rural areas, as per D&C Act.


The figures in the data elucidate one fact that majority of the medical shops in Bihar are run on wholesale licenses rather than getting licenses in Form 20 and 21 (retail licence).


According to sources from drugs control administration in Bihar, there are around 60,000 medical shops in the state. Whereas, Amarendra Kumar, general secretary of Bihar Chemists and Druggists Association (BCDA) said his association has the membership of only 40,000 members, and out of it, 23,000 are retail shops and 17000 are wholesale licensees. He further said as per the data he received from the state pharmacy council, there are only 6000 registered pharmacists.


As per Drugs and Cosmetics Act, for running a retail drug store, license in Form 20 and 21 are required, and it demands services of registered pharmacists. But as per Bihar DCA’s statistical data of new licensing, in almost all districts (circles of DCA) licenses in Form 20 B and 21 B (wholesale license) have been granted four to five times more than the retail licenses issued. This makes clear that medical shops in almost all districts are under the control of wholesalers and the dispensing is carried out without the supervision of pharmacists.


For example, as per the data, in Araria district (Circle ARA) the number of licenses issued in Form 20 and Form 21 in last one year period is 15, but the permit for wholesale in 20B and 21B are 92. This shows that majority of medical shops in this district is run by wholesale licensees. In East Champaran district (Circle CPE) retail licenses granted is 17, but the wholesale permit is 107. In the district of West Champaran (Circle CPW), the number of Form 20 and 21 granted is 21, whereas here 20B and 21B given is 103.


In Patna Municipal Corporation Area (Circle PAT), the retail license number stands as 289, but the number of licenses issued for wholesale is 535. In Patna Rural (Circle PAR) the figures for retail and wholesale are 86 and 110 respectively. Astonishingly, in Jehanabad district (Circle JEH), the department has granted only 2 retail licenses, but it permitted 39 wholesale dealers for business. In Vaishali (Circle VAI), while 21 retail licenses were granted, the department issued 80 wholesale permit in Form 20B and 21B.


The list shows that the number of Restricted Licenses issued in Araria is 33 and in Bhojpur it is 35. In Sitamarhi district (Circle SIT), the number of retail permit is only 10, but RL granted is 25. In Jehanabad the number of RL is 12, but Form 20 is only two.


For getting wholesale licenses in 20 B and 21B, services of registered pharmacists are not required, but service of a competent person is enough, as per the drugs and cosmetics act. The condition is that the competent person should be a matriculate with four years experience in pharmacy practice or a graduate with one year experience. The drug act does not restrict or limit the number of competent persons a wholesale dealer can appoint in his pharma business. So, the wholesalers, after taking licenses in Form 20B and 21B, they run medical shops in the nook and corner of the state along with their wholesale business. The advantage is that they can skip from appointing qualified persons as the license requires only a competent person, ie, an experienced person in a pharmacy.


Sources from pharmacist community allege that wholesale dealers are taking advantage of this provision in the drug act, which points to a loophole for them for violation and misuse. The drugs control department in the state is issuing as many wholesale licences as requested by the traders. When a senior officer in the drugs control department was contacted, he said in anonymity that getting license in one Form and doing another business is a blatant violation of the D&C Act. He said running retail shops on wholesale license is rampant in Bihar. He argues that the violation is taken place because of non-availability of registered pharmacists.


As in the case of Form 20B and 21B, the services of pharmacists (qualified persons) are not required for getting the RL (restricted license), further it does not demand the services of a competent person also. Although the government is aware of this violation and illegal business, no action is taken by the department of health, it is alleged.


Out of the total 9491 licenses the department issued in 12 months from last July, 3157 permits were issued for wholesale business and 1099 for retail trade. The total number of restricted license granted in this period is 382. The remaining licenses were given in various Forms such as 20F (narcotics), 20C, 20D (homeopathy retail and wholesale), 20G (wholesale of Schedule X) and some other special category licenses.


When these issues were brought to the attention of the principal secretary of health, government of Bihar, Sanjay Kumar, through Whatsapp, he responded that he would direct his drugs controller to look into the matter. Pharmabiz