New Delhi: A powerful lobby of over 8.5 lakh chemist outlets across India, called the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), is set to declare war against the country’s third largest pharmaceuticals company, Cipla.
The AIOCD is planning to sideline and stop promoting products manufactured by the Mumbai-based drug maker after learning about Cipla’s reported tie-up with online pharmacy chain, Medlife.
Cipla, which makes top-selling brands such as bronchitis medicine Asthalin and popular painkiller Ibugesic, is reportedly in talks to invest over Rs 150 crore in the Bengaluru-based Medlife, which sells medicines online and also offers lab tests and medical consultations.
The move could be the first investment by a pharmaceutical company in an e-pharmacy.
Why chemists are angry
Offline chemists are simmering with discontent as the trend could cause massive damage to their business. Several chemists have reached out to the AIOCD to take action against Cipla so that others don’t follow the trend.
“If the company could sell directly to the customer through online channels, what would we do? With such moves, companies will become the retailer and our business will be completely wiped out,” Rajiv Singhal, general secretary of the AIOCD told ThePrint.
AIOCD is awaiting confirmation from Cipla about the reports. If confirmed, the lobby will discuss the matter with its state heads to formulate its strategy.
“If Cipla plans to back Medlife, we may instruct the chemists across India to sideline its products completely and stop its promotion. We will only dispense its products when a doctor specifically prescribes them, otherwise, we will stop encouraging and endorsing the brand,” Singhal said.
The lobby may also start rejecting the discounts and offers by the company that encourage pharmacists to stock more.
“Until now, we have not decided to shun or boycott Cipla’s products considering the public interest. However, in a larger meeting with state heads, we will decide the future course of our association with Cipla. Meanwhile, we await their confirmation.”
Asked for the company’s comment, a Cipla spokesperson told ThePrint, “The leadership is unfortunately unavailable today and is therefore unable to share a comment on this.”
Brick-and-mortar chemists have been holding protests against the government’s approval of online sale of medicines since 2015. Last year, the AIOCD had held a nationwide strike against e-pharmacies.
This report has been updated to remove an incorrect reference to Cipla products. The error is regretted.