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Common drugs at general stores? Government mulls over idea

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NEW DELHI: Should commonly used drugs such as cough and cold medicines, antacids, and antipyretics (fever-reducing drugs) be made available at

general stores

in India, like in many countries abroad? A govt appointed committee tasked with creating India’s

OTC

or over-the-counter drug policy is learnt to be considering this suggestion seriously and discussed it in a meeting held here on Monday.

“Many countries, like the US, allow sale of commonly used medicines in grocery stores also. A suggestion was made by some of the experts looking into India’s OTC drug policy to allow the same here also for improved accessibility, especially in the rural areas. However, no decision has been taken yet,” said a source.
Over-the-counter medicines refers to drugs that are allowed to be sold without a doctor’s prescription. Countries like the USA, UK and Australia have clear cut guidelines regarding their classification, uses and regulation. In Feb,

Director General of Health Services

,

Atul Goel

, formed an expert committee to formulate India’s OTC drug policy.
The committee has submitted the first list of drugs that could be sold over the counter recently after which a meeting was called on Monday to discuss any potential addition or subtraction.

“India has a rule for

prescription drugs

but there is no guideline or list of drugs that should be sold over the counter. A drug is considered an OTC unless it is specifically stated as a prescription only drug. This is the first time such an exercise is being undertaken,” said a source.

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