Makers give Rs 1000cr gifts to doctors to prescribe Dolo-650: SC calls it serious issuetext_fields
New Delhi: The Supreme Court held that the allegation on the makers of anti-fever tablet Dolo-650 that they had distributed around Rs 1,000 crore freebies to doctors for prescribing the tablet, is a serious issue that needs to be looked into immediately.
The Central Board for Direct Taxes (CBDT) has accused the makers of the Dolo-650 tablets of distributing freebies of around Rs 1,000 crore to doctors as consideration for prescribing the tablet.
Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, representing the Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives Association of India, contended before a bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud that Dolo had invested Rs 1,000 core in freebies to have its anti-fever drug prescribed to patients.
Justice Chandrachud said that it is a serious issue and even he was prescribed the same tablet. "I was also asked to have the same when I had COVID. This is a serious issue and matter."
The bench, also comprising Justice AS Bopanna, asked Additional Solicitor General KM Natraj, representing the Union government, to file a reply within 10 days. The apex court was hearing a PIL seeking directions to make pharmaceutical companies liable for giving freebies to doctors as an incentive to prescribe their drugs.
The plea said: "Petitioners seek enforcement of the fundamental right to health enshrined in the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India in view of the ever-increasing instances of unethical marketing practices by Pharmaceutical Companies in their dealings with healthcare professionals resulting in the prescription of excessive and/or irrational drugs and a push for high-cost and/or over-priced brands, which are practices that directly affect citizens' health, violating their rights under Article 21 of Constitution (sic)."
The plea said that it is "high time that the lacuna in ensuring the right to health is urgently filled up by an appropriate legislation". The plea added that there are abundant examples that show how corruption in the pharmaceutical sector endangers positive health outcomes and puts patients' health at risk.
"As violations of this kind have become a recurring phenomenon and are progressively becoming more pervasive, the petitioners pray that a Statutory Code of ethical marketing for the pharmaceutical industry, with penal consequences, be established to curb such practices for the enforcement of the fundamental Right to Health of the people of India," added the plea. The plea argued that due to the voluntary nature of the existing code, unethical practices continue to increase and have also surfaced during the COVID-19 times.