In the month of July, Central Board of Direct Taxes levelled serious allegations against manufacturers of Dolo 650 mg tablets. CBDT accused that the pharma companies of giving freebies worth 1000 crore rupees to doctors in order to make them prescribe the drugs manufactured buy these companies.
Following the report from CBDT, Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives Association of India, an NGO based in Kolkata, filed a petition with supreme court of India requesting the Apex court to look into the matter.
On Thursday, while looking into the matter, a supreme court bench consisting of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna, stated that the things pointed out in petition by FMRAI were “serious issue”
In petition, it was stated that makers of Dolo 650 mg make doctors prescribe their drugs more by making sure that the doctors gets gifts and other freebies in return.
Justice DY Chandrachud while hearing the case said that he was using Dolo 650 mg tablets while he was down with COVID-19 and that the court will seriously look into the matter.
Advocate Sanjay Parikh and advocate Aparna Bhat, lawyers representing FMRAI, said to the court that market prices of all prescription drugs below 500 mg are regulated by the government of India. A price regulatory mechanism is currently in place which would help government to keep a check on the prices.
At the same time, drugs above 500 mg do not have any kind of pricing regulation and the prices are fixed by the pharma companies.
It is also alleged that through this process of providing doctors freebies to prescribe their drugs, makers of Dolo 650 mg made huge amounts of profits.
Lawyers representing FMRAI said that they are willing to present more information and details regarding the issue once the central government submits a response on the matter.
The supreme court bench asked Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj to file the response of government of India on the matter. After the repsonse is filed by the gvoebnremtnm, all parites would get additobnakl one week time to subkmti a rejoinder on the subject matter.
Advocate Sanjay Parikh stated that the issue was of high importance to the public and that the current laws and regulations were inadequate to deal with new intricacies in market practices of drug business.
According to Sanjay Parikh, pharma companies had always freed themselves from such cases by saying they are not liable for punishment as the bribe-takers are the doctors.
An advocate representing pharma companies asked permission of the court to join the case proceedings, to which the bench agreed, as judges felt that it was important to hear their side of the story.
The supreme court has listed the matter for further hearing on September 29.