A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS A boy was told by senior advocate Sanjay Parikh and advocate Aparna Bhattappearing for petitioner Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives Association of India, that the market price of any tablet up to 500 mg is regulated under price control mechanism of the government but the price of the drug above 500 mg can be fixed by apharma company.
Parikh alleged that to ensure a higher profit margin, the company manufacturing Dolo tablets distributed freebies to doctors to prescribe the 650 mg drug. He said he would like to bring more such facts to the knowledge of the court after a response is filed by the Centre.
“What you are saying is music to my ears. This is exactly the drug that I had when I had Covid recently. This is a serious issue and we will look into it,” Justice Chandrachud said. The bench then asked additional solicitor general KM Nataraj to file his response to the plea by the petitioner in 10 days and gave one week time thereafter to the latter to file his rejoinder. It listed the matter for further hearing on September 29. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) had on July 13 accused the makers of the Dolo-650 tablet of indulging in “unethical practices” and distributing freebies worth about Rs 1,000 crore to doctors and medical professionals in exchange for promoting products made by the pharmaceutical group.
The claims were made after the Income Tax department had on July 6 raided 36 premises of the Bengaluru-based Micro Labs across nine states. A counsel sought permission from the court to file an intervention on behalf of the Pharma companies, which the court allowed saying it would like to hear them also on the issue.
On March 11, the top court agreed to examine a plea seeking direction to the Centre for formulating a Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices to curb alleged unethical practices of Pharma companies and ensure an effective monitoring mechanism, transparency, accountability as well as consequences for violations.