Pharma Cos Distributed Rs 1000 Crore Freebies Among Doctors To Prescribe Dolo-650 Tablets : FMRAI Tells Supreme Court
On Thursday, the Federation of Medical & Sales Representatives Association of India informed the Supreme Court that the Central Board for Direct Taxes have accused the Pharma Company manufacturing DOLO tablets, a fever reducing drug, of distributing INR 1000 crore worth freebies to doctors for prescribing dosage of 650mg. Senior Advocate, Sanjay Parikh appearing on behalf of...
On Thursday, the Federation of Medical & Sales Representatives Association of India informed the Supreme Court that the Central Board for Direct Taxes have accused the Pharma Company manufacturing DOLO tablets, a fever reducing drug, of distributing INR 1000 crore worth freebies to doctors for prescribing dosage of 650mg.
Senior Advocate, Sanjay Parikh appearing on behalf of the Association, informed a Bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna that the market price of DOLO upto 500mg is regulated, however the dosage beyond 500mg can be priced at the will of the manufacturer. In order to ensure higher profits, the freebies were distributed amongst doctors to prescribe a dosage of 650mg, which Mr. Parikh referred to as an "irrational dose combination".
Concerned about the gravity of the issue, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud remarked -
"What you are saying is not music to my ears. This is exactly what I had when I had Covid. This is a serious issue."
The Bench was hearing a plea seeking direction to Centre to give the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (Code) statutory basis and make it effective by ensuring monitoring mechanism, transparency, accountability as well as consequences of violations. On Thursday, it granted time to the Union Government to file its counter and also to the petitioner to file its rejoinder.
Mr. Parikh informed the Bench that issue in the present matter is a short one -
"According to me the point is very short, the Code is already there, so it is only whether it should be voluntary or statutory in nature."
Justice Chandrachud observed -
"We cannot mandate that Parliament enacts a law."
The petition had been filed contending that pharmaceutical companies are bribing doctors to bring business and to prescribe excessive and/or irrational drugs and a push for high-cost and/or over-priced brands. It seeks a direction that till the Code is given the colour of a legislation, the Court may lay down the guidelines to control and regulate unethical marketing practices by pharmaceutical companies. In the alternative, it also implores the Court to make the existing Code binding with such modifications/additions as the Court may find proper and reasonable, which should be followed by all the authorities/courts under Articles 32, 141, 142 and 144 of the Constitution.
On Thursday, Advocate, Ms. Ruby Singh Ahuja from Karanjawala & Co., sought the Apex Court's permission to file an intervention application on behalf of the Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA), an alliance of Pharma companies, to put forth their suggestions with respect to the Code. Granting permission for the same, the Bench agreed to be assisted by IPA in the present proceedings.
[Case Title: Federation of medical and Sales Representatives Associations of India and Ors. v. UoI And Ors. WP(C) No. 323/2021]