Kathmandu, April 17:

Lack of life saving medicines, most of which are imported from India and third countries, has hit hospitals and medical stores due to the continuing strike of the seven political parties that entered the twelfth day today.

The strike has affected the import of life saving medicines and other type of drugs, importers informed. Kishor Pradhan of Cipla Instyle Trading Concern (CITC), importer of medicines from India, talking to The Himalayan Times said, import has come to a complete halt since April 6 which has created a shortage of medicines in the country. The country has run short of drugs like heart medicine and saline, Pradhan said. Nepal heavily depends on import of drugs which meets about 70 per cent of the demand. Some of the imported medicines are codeine, morphine, methadone, among others. If the current strike continues for a few more days, it would create havoc for medicine supply in the country, Pradhan warned.

Talking about the shortage of imported drugs, Kishor Dev Acharya, chief of Pharmacy Department of TU Teaching Hospital, Maharajgunj said that the ongoing strike has already created a shortage of ‘imported medicines’. He said that Nepal has to import most medicines that comes under the category of ‘life saving drugs’.

Nepal’s domestic production can meet only about 30 per cent of the total demand.

If the strike continues, it is more than likely that we shall see a shortage in domestically produced medicines as well soon, worried Acharya. He also said that there has been a shortage of narcotic drugs at the hospital. Even Sajha Medicines Department Stores like the one located at the premises of Teaching Hospital, operated through Janaswatha Cooperative Sewa Ltd (JCSL), was seen shut today.

Ashok Shrestha, a staff at Jana Sewa Pharmacy, said that the stock of medicine is getting low and likely to lead to a crisis in coming days. He disclosed that even local pharmaceutical producers are not supplying medicines, due to halt in transportation. Import of medicines from India has stopped for the last 11 days, he informed.

Radha Raman Prasad, senior drug specialist at the Department of Drug Administration (DDA), told The Himalayan Times that there is sufficient stock of drugs at Birgunj. However, difficulties over transportation might have affected the smooth supply of medicines, said Prasad.

“I don’t think there is any shortage of medicines in the market currently,” he opined. If there is any shortage, ‘special arrangement’ can be made, assured Prasad.

Sunil Suwal of NH Pharmacy, New Baneshwore said that they are feeling the shortage of imported medicines for the past 15 days, due to the ongoing agitation. Medicines such as saline and antibiotics are in short supply, Suwal informed. More than 200 medicinal drugs are imported from India, he informed. He expressed his concerns

over the fact that even distributors have stopped supplying medicines to stores. Prabhu Vaidya of Yeti Chem Distributors said that import has been stopped for about two weeks which has naturally crated a short supply. He imports medicines from India, Switzerland, France and other countries.

The medicine market in is worth over six billion rupees, said Pradhan of Cipla Instyle Trading Concern. According to importers, Nepal’s pharma market is growing at the rate of 10 per cent. A total of 150 importers import medicines from abroad.