Pharmaceutical companies that trick doctors into prescribing their drugs should be held accountable, according to a motion heard by the Supreme Court. As an example, the petition cited Dolo-650 – a prescribed fever pill – and said its manufacturers had invested Rs 1,000 crore in giveaways. A panel of Judges DY Chandrachud and Judge AS Bopanna called it a “serious matter” and asked the Center to file its response within 10 days.
“It’s not music for the ears. Even I was asked to have the same medicine when I had Covid. This is serious business,” Judge DY Chandrachud said.
The petition was filed by the Federation of Medical and Commercial Representatives of India.
Appearing for the Federation, senior lawyer Sanjay Parikh said: “Dolo has invested over 1000 crore in gifts to doctors to promote the drug.”
The Central Board of Direct Taxation or CBDT, had made the allegation after raiding 36 premises of Bengaluru-based Micro Labs Limited across nine states. Accusing the manufacturer of unethical practices, the CBDT said it detected tax evasion to the tune of 300 crore.
The petition states that such practices not only lead to overuse of drugs, but can also endanger the health of patients. Such corruption also pushes expensive or irrational drugs into the market.
The petition states that due to the voluntary nature of the existing rules, unethical practices by pharmaceutical companies are flourishing and have even surfaced during the Covid pandemic.
The petition asked the high court to ensure that the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices is made effective by providing a mechanism for oversight, transparency and accountability.
The bench had issued a notice to the Center earlier, but no response was filed. Appearing for the Center today, Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, said the response was almost ready.
The case will be heard again by the High Court on September 29.