Dolo-650 makers gave freebies worth Rs 1,000 crore to doctors for prescribing tablet: Medical body to SC. According to a PIL submitted by the Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives Association of India, DOLO spent 1,000 crore on incentives to get its anti-fever medication administered to patients.
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During the Covid-19 pandemic, manufacturers of the paracetamol medication “Dolo,” which gained popularity as a drug, provided more than Rs 1,000 crores to physicians, a group of medical representatives testified before the Supreme Court on Thursday, reports India Today.
The Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives Association of India’s senior attorney, Sanjay Parikh, informed the bench, “Over Rs 1,000 crore freebies have been given by Dolo company for the 650mg formulation. The doctors were prescribing an irrational dose combination,” the lawyer said. He attributed the information to a report from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
Justice DY Chandrachud, who presided over the bench that also included Justice AS Bopanna, stated, “What you are saying is not music to my ears. This (drug) is exactly what I had when I had Covid.”
Concerns about the regulation of pharmaceutical formulations and costs of medicines sold in India have been raised by the PIL filed by the Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives Association of India. Sanjay Parikh’s arguments were heard by the justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna, who noted that it was a serious matter.
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‘Serious Issue’, Says Court
The court will resume hearing the case after 10 days and has now ordered the Center to submit its response to the PIL within a week.
“This is a serious issue. It should not be treated as adversarial litigation,” remarked the bench.
The organization has filed a PIL asking for guidelines to hold pharmaceutical corporations accountable for offering freebies to physicians as a perk for prescribing their medications. In the petition, the Center has asked the court to order the creation of legislation that will support the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP).
Parikh in his arguments also said, “There is currently no law or regulation that prohibits such practices in the absence of any statutory basis for the UCPMP, a voluntary set of rules for the sector.”
“Corruption in pharmaceutical marketing practices is unregulated in India despite being a signatory to the UN Convention against corruption,” claims the petition.
Speaking to India Today, after the hearing, Sanjay Parikh said, “Unnecessary pharmaceuticals are prescribed by doctors in return for freebies given by pharma companies. The UCPMP code has been created to tackle this problem. The menace is increasing day by day.”
The senior lawyer further stated that the Dolo case was used as an example because it was the most recent issue.
“For 500 mg paracetamol, pricing is prescribed by the drug pricing authority. But when you increase it to 650 mg, then it goes beyond the controlled price. That’s why it is being promoted so much. This was an example of freebies. There are more antibiotics in the market that are being promoted in different combinations even when they are not required. There must be a statutory framework to control drug formulations,” Parikh said.