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Lockdown: Kashmir faces acute shortage of life-saving drugs

Representational picture

Srinagar: Riyaz Ahmad (name changed) had to return disappointed from a chemist shop in Srinagar as he couldn’t get long-acting antipsychotic injectables for his schizophrenic middle-aged brother. 

This was the 10th pharmacy from which he had returned empty-handed on Monday.  “I don’t know what I ought to do,” a distressed Ahmad said.

He has now asked a doctor friend to help get the drug.

Riyaz’s predicament is shared by hundreds of patients and their relatives in the Kashmir valley in the wake of shortage of life-saving drugs amid severe restrictions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We are currently facing a shortage of many life-saving drugs including antiepileptic, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic  medicines as supplies are disrupted due to the countrywide lockdown,” said a drug distributor wishing not to be named.

He noted that the distributors are wary of investing their money in placing orders. “There is so much uncertainty. Post-August 5, there was no problem with transportation and fresh supplies could be brought easily. However, this time, the situation is entirely different as we are unsure if the orders placed will get delivered in time or not,” he said.

On the other side, President Kashmir Medical Representatives Association Mohammad Arif Bhat said the issue of drug shortage has been brought into the notice of administration.

“From the last three days, the supplies are being replenished. We are trying our best to ensure people don’t face any dearth of medicines,” he said.

Deputy Drug Controller, Kashmir Division, Irfana Ahmad, however, said there is no shortage of drugs in the valley at present.

“There are two categories of drugs—long term and short term. The long term drugs like insulin need to be brought in cold storage conditions while short term drugs include antibiotics, pain killers, etc,” she said.

Irfana pointed out that the administration has hired Indian Air Force planes to bring the fresh supplies of the cold storage drugs, while the other drugs are brought via Srinagar-Jammu highway. 

 “The fresh supplies are being brought in a hassle-free manner. Further, people should also refrain from hoarding and panic buying. We have asked the chemists to dispense drugs as per the prescription,” she said