Pharmaceutical Industry and Ethical conducts- Allegations on Dolo 650
Since the incident of Covid-19 and the high speed spread of infection in the second quarter of 2020 in our country, Dolo-650 has become a household name. It is an antipyretic pill which is manufactured using one of the most common, and oldest, generic formulations known as paracetamol. It is commonly used to treat aches and reduce high temperatures and has been in the market since the 1960s. The Covid-19 pandemic pushed the sales of this oval-shaped white pill and made it the ‘most sellable’ medicine in India.
Now, however, the maker of Dolo-650 mg, Micro Labs, has been accused of offering freebies worth Rs 1,000 crore to doctors to endorse and promote this anti-fever drug. In July, the Income Tax department conducted searches at the offices and residences of the top management of Micro Labs for alleged tax evasion. The searches were related to financial documents, balance sheets and business distributor networks of the company.
However, Jayaraj Govindaraju, Executive Vice President, Marketing and Communication at Micro Labs Limited clarified, “We have certainly not spent 1000 Cr on Dolo 650 during COVID year, as no company can spend that much amount on a brand that achieved a peak sale of about 350 Cr in the last year.”
Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives Association of India has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) stating that the company gave over Rs 1,000 crore freebies to doctors for prescribing an irrational dose combination of Dolo-650. The PIL has sought to make pharmaceutical companies liable for giving freebies to doctors as an incentive to prescribe their drugs. The PIL further demands statutory backing to the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP).
The Supreme Court has also articulated that giving free gifts to doctors by pharmaceutical companies to promote the sale of drugs is ‘clearly prohibited by law’. The Supreme Court dubbed it as ‘a matter of great public importance and concern’, the manipulation of prescriptions by pharmaceutical companies in return for their free gifts to doctors.
These kind of allegations on the pharma industry are, nonetheless, not new. Various pharma companies have been accused time and again of offering freebies, foreign vacations and numerous other perks to doctors to prescribe their medicines. Do let us know what your opinion on this is!
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