Drug shortage in Kashmir because pharma companies operate from Jammu

Drug shortage in Kashmir because pharma companies operate from Jammu
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Srinagar: Absence of super stockists and CNF agents for pharmaceutical companies in Kashmir has led to shortage of drugs in the Valley every time there is closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway.
According to sources, the government has failed to facilitate hundreds of pharmaceutical companies to open their ware houses and depots in Kashmir. This creates unnecessary shortage of essential and live-saving drugs in the markets of Kashmir during extreme weather conditions.
“There are more than 3,000 drug manufacturing and distribution companies operating in Jammu and Kashmir. But, only few of them have their depots and consignee agents in Kashmir,” said a drug department official.
He said most of the pharmaceutical companies supply drugs through their super stockists and consignee agents based in Jammu, even though maximum consumers belong to the Valley.
“Nearly 80 percent drugs are consumed in Kashmir as compared to Jammu, but the absence of super stockists creates hurdles in the supply chain during exigency,” the official said.
Mushtaq Ahmad Pukhta, a leading drug distributor of Kashmir, said that top pharma companies are reluctant to operate in Kashmir due to various reasons including lack of facilities.
“Some top companies were operating from Kashmir for many years. Now they have shifted their depots to Jammu for smooth operation,” he said.
Pukhta, who is also the representative of a pharma dealers association, claimed that only one top drug manufacturing company, IPCA, has its depot and CNF agent in Srinagar.
“All others are operating from Jammu, including thousands of small companies. Although a few small companies are operating in Kashmir but those belong to un-organised sector. It’s difficult for us to keep track of them and their activities as they are in thousands and don’t have professional set-up available,” he said.
According to him, other top companies which operate from Jammu through their consignee agents and super stockists include Pfizer, MSD, Glaxo, Abbot, Intas, Mylan, Zydus, Cipla, Cadila, Sun Pharma and Glenmark.
“Maximum supply of drugs including life-saving injectables come from these companies to the Valley. During emergency situation the dealers have to either wait for the road to open or plead for airlifting of the supply. Usually we keep enough drugs available in stock but when road remains closed for many days and air traffic also gets affected, it gives rise to the problem of shortage,” Pukhta said.
He appealed to the government to facilitate top drug companies to open depots in Kashmir.
“It will provide employment to large section of youth and end the shortage issue once for all,” Pukhta said.
Deputy Drug Controller, Kashmir, Irfana Ahmad said the department ensures that enough supplies are available in the Valley during winters when snowfall results in highway closure.
“There are hundreds of drug stockists in Kashmir and some super stockists also, though most of the top companies have their CNF depots in Jammu. We have no say in their functioning,” she said, adding that it’s a policy decision of the government to bring them to the valley.