In a bid to ensure a high-profit margin, a pharmaceutical company manufacturing popular DOLO tablets, containing 650 milligrams of paracetamol, distributed freebies worth ₹ 1,000 crores to medical practitioners, affirmed the Supreme Court of India.
DOLO-650 is an antipyretic (fever reducing) and analgesic (pain reducing) drug that contains 650 mg of paracetamol and is prescribed by doctors to relieve fever and mild-to-moderate pain. It is also believed to give relief to a patient suffering from headaches, migraine and toothache.
The information was provided to a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna by senior advocates Sanjay Parikh and Aparna Bhat, appearing for the petitioner ‘Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives Association of India (FMRAI)’. The attorneys stated that the market price of any tablet up to 500mg is regulated in accordance with the price control mechanism set by the government of India.
Parikh said, “It is an ‘irrational dose combination’ and he would like to bring more such facts to the knowledge of the court after a response is filed by the Centre.”
In his reply, Justice Chandrachud reacted, “This is exactly the drug that I had when I had COVID recently. This is a serious issue and we will look into it.”
The case is listed for further hearing on September 29, 2022. Besides, the court also directed the Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj to file his response in 10 days.
Earlier in the month of March, the apex court agreed to investigate a plea that sought direction to the Central government to formulate a uniform code in exercising pharmaceutical marketing practices aiming to combat unethical trends followed by the pharma group of companies and to implement effective monitoring mechanisms- transparency and accountability.
The plea also highlighted the code prescribed under the Indian Medical Council for Professional, Etiquette and Ethics Regulations of 2002 regarding the medical practitioners in their relationship with the pharma companies and associated healthcare industries.
“This Code is enforceable against doctors, however, does not apply to drug companies, leading to anomalous situations where doctors’ licenses are cancelled for misconduct which is actuated, encouraged, aided, and abetted by pharma companies. The pharma companies go scot-free,” as stated in the plea.