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Dolo-65O makers distributed Rs 1,000 crores freebies to doctors for prescribing anti-fever drug during COVID-19 pandemic

Dolo-65O makers distributed Rs 1,000 crores freebies to doctors for prescribing anti-fever drug during COVID-19 pandemic

New Delhi: Makers of Dolo-650 had distributed freebies worth whooping Rs 1,000 crore to doctors as consideration for prescribing the tablet, the Federation of Medical & Sales Representatives Association of India told the Supreme Court on Thursday.

It is worth mentioning that Dolo-650 was the most prescribed medicine all through COVID-19 pandemic since the start of 2020.

Justice DY Chandrachud, who was hearing the matter today, said that it was a serious issue and even he was prescribed the same anti-fever drug during COVID.

"This is not music to my ears. I was also asked to have the same when I had COVID. This is a serious issue and matter," Justice Chandrachud remarked.

The top court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions to make pharmaceutical companies liable for giving freebies to doctors as incentive to prescribe their drugs.

The petition by the Federation of Medical & Sales Representatives Association of India sought direction to give statutory backing to the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP).

Meanwhile, the court has directed the Central government to file a reply within 10 days.

In its plea, the petitioner even pointed out massive sale and prescription of the drug Remdisivir during the COVID-19 pandemic as an example.

Income Tax raid at Dolo-650 tablet manufacturing pharma company

In July, the Income Tax department had conducted searches at Bengaluru based pharma company - Micro Labs Ltd that manufactures Dolo-650. The searches were carried out on chares of tax invasion.

Dolo-650 is an analgesic (pain killer) and antipyretic (fever-reducing) drug. Its composition includes 650 milligrams (mg) of paracetamol which is more than other approved drugs that has 500 mg.

Reports said that MicroLabs's strategy of using the medical terminology preferred by doctors for fever called Fever of Unknown Origin or FUO in brand promotion that helped it in increasing its trustworthiness.

According to a report in Forbes, more than 350 crore Dolo-650 tablets were sold since beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 that helped the Micro Labs Ltd garner revenues worth Rs 400 crore in a year.

As per research firm IQVIA, the pharma company sold about 7.5 crore strips of Dolo-650 annually before the pandemic began. It increased to 9.4 crore strips, before touching 14.5 crore strips, almost double the 2019 figure, by the end of 2021.

With inputs from agencies

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