NEW DELHI: Pharmaceutical company Micro Labs Limited on Friday termed ‘baseless’ and ‘incorrect’ allegations that it had gifted freebies worth Rs 1000 crore to doctors to promote its Dolo 650 tablets.
The Dolo 650 manufacturer claimed that the brand had done a business of just Rs 350 crore when Covid was at its peak and it was simply unviable for it to promote the drug by spending a much larger amount.
“It is impossible for any company to spend Rs 1000 crore on the marketing of a brand which did Rs 350 crore in the Covid year. That too when Dolo 650 comes under NLEM (price control),” said Jayaraj Govindaraju, executive vice president, marketing and communication, Micro Labs Limited while speaking to ANI.
According to Govindaraju, it was not just Dolo tablets but several other products of the company as well that were used widely due to the Covid onslaught. “It was not just Dolo 650, even other Covid protocol drugs like Vitamin C and Vitamin combinations also did very well during Covid,” he added.
The Supreme Court on Thursday described the matter pertaining to the allegation that the manufacturer of Dolo 650 had distributed freebies worth Rs 1000 crore as a ‘serious issue’. An NGO, based on some findings of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), had raised the issue related to freebies being used to encourage doctors to prescribe drugs.
The 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 Micro Labs Limited across nine states.
The top court on Thursday asked the Centre to file its response within 10 days on the PIL seeking directions to make pharmaceutical companies liable for giving freebies to doctors as an incentive.
According to Dr Chandra Gulati, editor, Monthly Index of Medical Specialities (MIMS), not only drugs formulations but their molecules should also come under price control to avoid such activities.
“My views are that there are about 2000 molecules in India and out of that not even one-third are under control and companies can price them the way they want. The problem is that the basic salt isn’t under price control, what is under price control is the formulation, for eg if paracetamol is 500, 600, or 125 miligram. Now, if the paracetamol is under price control then the problem is over, but it’s not like that.”
“The problem is certain formulations of a paracetamol are under price control like 500 mgm is under control, but 650 mgm paracetamol isn’t. So they can sell the drug at higher prices.” he said.
A Delhi based drug distributor, Kanav Nangia, said the price of Crocin and Dolo 650 is similar but the distribution commission is more in Dolo 650. “Still the demand for the medicine is high because of the viral fever and Covid,” the distributor said.
When asked about these aspects, Govindraju claimed that the Dolo 650 manufacturer had reduced the distribution rate as well.
– With agency inputs