Baseless And Incorrect: Dolo-650 Makers On Kickback Allegations

The Supreme Court of India on Thursday called the matter a “serious issue”.
The makers of Dolo-650 have been alleged to distribute freebies to doctors
The makers of Dolo-650 have been alleged to distribute freebies to doctors

Bengaluru based pharmaceutical company Micro Labs Limited, the makers of Dolo-650 on Friday termed the allegations against it as “baseless and incorrect”.

The company claimed that during the peak of Covid-19 pandemic, the company did business worth around Rs 350 crores, refuting claims that it had gifted freebies worth Rs 1000 crore to doctors to promote its Dolo-650 tablets.

Jayaraj Govindaraju, the executive vice president of Micro Labs Limited told ANI, “It is impossible for any company to spend Rs 1000 cr on the marketing of a brand which did 350 cr in the Covid year. That too when Dolo 650 comes under NLEM.”

He further mentioned that it was not only Dolo-650 but several other products of the company that were widely used during the pandemic. He said, “It was not just Dolo 650, even other COVID protocol drugs like Vitamin C and Vitamin combinations also did very well during COVID.”

The Supreme Court of India on Thursday called the matter a “serious issue”. The entire issue was brought to light by an NGO, based on the findings of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) regarding distribution of freebies to encourage doctors to prescribe drugs.

The SC asked the Centre to file a response within 10 days on the PIL seeking directions making pharmaceutical companies liable for giving freebies to doctors as an incentive.

A bench consisting of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna was informed that the makers of Dolo-650 mg tablet had invested Rs 1,000 crores in freebies to have its anti-fever drug prescribed to patients.

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The CBDT accused the company of distributing such freebies worth around Rs 1,000 crores to doctors to encourage them to prescribe the tablet, senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, representing the Federation of Medical Sales Representatives Association of India said.

Justice Chandrachud said that it is a “serious issue” and that even he was prescribed the same tablet during Covid.

Dr. Chandra Gulati, Editor of Monthly Index of Medical Specialities (MIMS) mentioned that not only drugs formulations but their molecules should come under price control to avoid such-activities.

He said, “My views are that there are about 2000 molecules in India and out of that not even one-third are under control and companies can price them the way they want. The problem is that the basic salt isn't under price control, what is under price control is the formulation, for eg if paracetamol is 500, 600, or 125 miligram. Now, if the paracetamol is under price control then the problem is over, but it's not like that.”

"The problem is certain formulations of a paracetamol are under price control like 500 mgm is under control, but 650 mgm paracetamol isn't. So they can sell the drug at higher prices." added Gulati.

A drug distributor in Delhi, Kanav Nangia said that the price of Crocin and Dolo-650 is similar but the distribution commission is more on Dolo-650. “Still the demand for the medicine is high because of the viral Fever and COVID,” said the distributor.

Asked to respond to these, Govindraju claimed that the manufacturer had reduced the distribution rates making it possible.

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