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Govt exempts hand sanitisers from licence for sale, stocking

Hand sanitisers are being used by people, health workers and hospitals to prevent the spread of coronavirusPremium
Hand sanitisers are being used by people, health workers and hospitals to prevent the spread of coronavirus

  • The order, which is dated for Monday, was published in the government’s gazette today and would come into force from immediate effect
  • The association of about 8.5 lakh chemists in the country has been urging the government to not exempt the product from licencing norms

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has exempted hand sanitisers from requirement of licence for its stocking or sale under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, with an aim to make the product more widely available to the public amid the covid-19 pandemic.

The government has also exempted sale of hand sanitisers from all licence conditions under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, except that retailers cannot keep stock or sell the product after the date of expiry.

The order, which is dated for Monday, was published in the government’s gazette today and would come into force from immediate effect.

The move, however, has come under criticism from the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), who say that it will lead to substandard products being sold in the country.

The association of about 8.5 lakh chemists in the country has been urging the government to not exempt the product from licencing norms. It even wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week saying that hand sanitisers should not be sold at any place other than a pharmacy.

“The sanitiser also contains drugs like chlorhexidine, hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl alcohol, glycerol, ethanol (95%), propylene glycol, etc, which needs to be bought and sold in licenced premises. When a sanitiser is sold in a pharmacy, there is government machinery to control and check the quality," AIOCD said in the letter dated 21 July.

To be sure, regulatory control over hand sanitisers have been considerably eased since the start of the covid-19 pandemic, with the government even asking liquor manufacturers in March to make alcohol-based hand sanitisers that are more effective than glycerine-based products against the novel coronavirus SARS-COV2, which causes the fatal respiratory disease.

Even sale of alcohol-based hand sanitisers have eased, with many retail supermarkets also stocking them. Singhal, however, argues that the new order would significantly reduce the regulations for the product.

“Now there will be no control on the quality of sanitisers. The order will allow hand sanitisers to be available even at pan and bidi shops. How will substandard or impure sanitiser help avoid infection?" AIOCD general secretary Rajeev Singhal said.

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