National Drug Authority (NDA) has been sued over its recent directive banning drug shops near pharmacies as of December 31.
A letter signed by the NDA’s secretary Donna Kusemererwa recently directed that any drug shop that is less than 1.5 kilometres from a pharmacy will be required to either apply for a licence to operate as pharmacy or relocate
NDA also announced it would not renew licenses of drug shops in urban areas unless they accept to relocate to rural areas before directing drug shops in municipalities and towns to either upgrade into pharmacies or shut down in the next one year.
The directive also limits establishment of more pharmacies in Kampala and other major municipalities.
However, Spirited Individuals Association Limited, a company that engages in public litigation and other incentives aimed at protecting and promoting human rights has sued NDA saying it was wrong for the body to stop issuance of new licences to drug shops in Kampala according to their suit in the High Court.
“The defendant’s acts and omission passing a regulation requiring the suit drug shop owners to relocate to a distance of less than one and a half kilometres violates economic and social rights of drug shop owners,” says the petitioners in their suit.
“All operators of drug shops are qualified medical personnel and the defendant’s act of passing the said regulation is unconstitutional.”
The petitioners say that the co-existence of the drug shops and pharmacies does not prejudice the defendant(NDA) or pharmacies in any way.
They say it is unfair for directing that a drug shop relocates to another an undeserved area irrespective of the fact that it (drug shop) was the first to operate in the specific location.
“Drug shop owners have a right to operate their business anywhere in Uganda without interference from the pharmacies.”
The petitioner seeks orders from the High Court declaring the directive by the National Drug Authority illegal and unconstitutional before being annulled.
“The plaintiff prays for a directive to the National Drug Authority to withdraw all printed notices, publications in the media and their website ordering drug shops to comply with the said regulation by 1, January, 2019,”says the petitioner.
The petitioner has also asked court to issue an order restraining NDA from enforcing the directive.
According to the National Drug Authority, there are 4248 licenced drug shops all over the country.