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Pharma companies caught in Jammu-Srinagar crossfire

Srinagar and Jammu are bracing for another crisis, this time for medicine.

, ET Bureau|
Sep 22, 2008, 02.44 AM IST
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SRINAGAR: After the dispute over the Amarnath shrine land, Srinagar and Jammu are bracing for another crisis. And shockingly, this one involves supply of medicines.

The pharma lobby in Srinagar is trying its best to cut off supplies from Jammu and source it directly, or from Punjab. Their Jammu counterparts have hit back by threatening pharmaceutical companies which are willing to co-operate with the pharma lobby in the Valley.

During the militancy-ridden years, pharmaceutical companies found it convenient to shift supply base from Srinagar to Jammu and the arrangement ran fine. That was, until the stir by the Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti hit the steady flow of medicines to the Valley.

During the days of the Jammu agitation, hospitals in the Valley received several casualties, following simultaneous, violent protests of secessionists. There was shortage of even basic items like surgical gloves, cotton and pain killers. The Centre had to even fly a plane-load of medicines.

This seemed like the opportunity the pharma trade body in the Valley was looking for. It asked all pharmaceutical associations in Delhi and Mumbai to send medicines directly to the Valley. Lupin Laboratories responded by using an alternative channel to supply medicine to the Valley.

Druggists in Jammu, naturally hit by the move, warned pharmaceutical companies against disturbing the existing distribution chain. The issue could snowball into a crisis if both sides stick to their stands. Medicines make for around Rs 1000 crore business in J&K.

Jammu and Kashmir Pharma Associates secretary Rakesh Gupta has issued a memo to companies: ���Any organisation attempting to disturb the existing distribution system in the state of Jammu and Kashmir after requests/threats from some anti-national Kashmir based associations, shall face non-co-operation from Jammu as also from rest of India.

We warn the companies that our action against such defaulting anti-national company shall be so intense that it will lead to its extinction.��� The body has already launched a non-co-operation movement with Lupin Labs.

Shiv Sena has cashed in by supporting the Jammu pharma lobby saying it will not permit supplies to Kashmir from any place if it bypasses Jammu.

Following threats, Punjab has refused to supply medicines to the Valley. Certain companies have reportedly threatened medical representatives that if they continue supplying to pharmacists in the Valley they would be posted out of J&K. Other companies are in dilemma on how to deal with the situation.

The Srinagar lobby, possibly egged on by secessionist, refuses to accept consignments from Jammu triggering another spell of shortage.
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