The Medicine Buying Experience in India


Most chemist shops in India are small, dusty, counter stores and the customer has to stand outside the shop at the counter in summer and winter. The stores selling medicines to cure the patients were completely unhygienic in their practices.
Standing outside several chemist shops and observing a customers buying behaviour gave me far more insight than I could have could through extensive research.
I observed the following steps when a customer walked up to a chemist shop to buy
medicines:
The customer would walk up to the counter of a chemist shop and ask for a bottle of cough syrup.
2.    The chemist would rummage through dusty store shelves and pull out a dusty bottle.
3.    The chemist would then reach for a dirty rag from underneath the counter and he would clean the bottle of cough syrup with this rag.
4.    Once the bottle had been cleaned, he would take a paper bag made out of old newspapers or a plastic bag from a shelf below the counter.
5.    He would then either “blow” into the paper bag to open it or wet his thumb and index finger with his spit and then open the top of the plastic bag.
6.    The bottle of cough syrup would then be put into its packaging and handed over to the customer.
7.    If the customer asked for an invoice, it would be issued manually. If no invoice was asked for, it would not be given.
8.    There would be no checking of the expiry date, the batch number and the maximum retail price printed on the bottle.

Every stage of this purchase process was unhygienic and lacked transparency. Cleaning a bottle with a dirty rag or blowing into a paper bag or putting spit on a plastic bag was unacceptable when selling medicines and yet the Indian customer did not seem to care. Not taking a bill for a purchase ensured that if there was a problem with the medicine, there was no way to establish that the medicine had been purchased from that particular chemist.

Quote from “The Buck Stops Here”

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