Delhi Bans OTC Sales of Painkillers But Will it Work?

Health News
2 min read
Hindi Female

In a first of its kind move for dengue preparedness, the Delhi government has decided to ban over-the-counter sales of common painkillers like, Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Disprin and Voveran till November 30th, that’s the end of the dengue season.

With two fatalities and 120 positive dengue cases, Delhi has seen a sudden, unusual spike this season. Typically, the dengue season starts by the end of August and peaks around October, when the 22-28 degrees temperature is optimum for the Aedes mosquito to breed.

(Photo: iStock)

NSAIDs drugs (Aspirin, Disprin, Brufen, Voveran, etc) will be banned for over-the-counter sale by chemists. It will be sold only on the basis of prescription by a qualified doctor. Stern action will be taken against those found violating the order.
– Satyendra Jain, Delhi Health Minister

During a dengue attack platelets take a beating and painkillers can further lower the platelet count, scar the liver, add to the haemorrhage symptoms and make the disease fatal. Banning OTC sales of painkillers is a good decision.


Is it Practical & Can it Work?

The total number of cases in the capital reported till August 8 has jumped alarmingly to120, a rise of nearly 125% over the last week (Photo: iStock)

The doctor patient ratio in the country is skewed. With less than 1 qualified doctor for 1000 people, how does the government expect people to get a consultation every time a fever or a stomach ache strikes? Think about this: is it even practical or affordable to take leave from office for a headache because you can’t legally get your pain fix without a prescription? And isn’t it going to be such a waste for the already-over-burdened-doctor’s time?

For the 19,000 registered chemists in the Capital (Source: Delhi Pharmacy Council) the unregistered will be much higher, there are less than 20 drug officers in the state. When sedatives, which are strictly prescription drugs, are rampantly sold without prescription, then a crackdown on OTC sales of painkillers will be mighty hard.

And what about those who are hoarding multiple strips of painkillers in their homes? How will they prescribe self restraint in popping pills? Won’t educating the masses about dengue, gearing up the preventive drives be better and more productive than a blanket ban on OTC painkillers for an entire state with only 120 positive cases?

Nanny-stating for better health is legitimate and is being done in good faith by the Delhi government, but if implementation is not just impossible but also likely to complicate matters for the average citizen, the question is, how far should the state go to protect adults from the consequences of their own decisions?

To reiterate – none of this implies, necessarily, that drugs being sold over-the-counter is the right thing to do. There are profound questions of feasibility, affordability and accessibility involved.

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Topics:  Dengue   Painkillers   Aspirin 

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