'Dolo-650 manufacturers spent ₹1000 crore on freebies to doctors for prescribing the tablet': MR association tells Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court was hearing a plea by a Medical Representatives Association seeking establishment of Statutory Code of ethical marketing for the pharmaceutical industry with provisions for penal actions against violators.

A Supreme Court bench of Justices Chandrachud and Bopanna were today informed by the Federation of Medical And Sales Representatives Associations that the Central Board for Direct Taxes has accused the manufacturers of Dolo-650 tablet of distributing freebies worth ₹1,000 crore to the doctors to ensure that the medicine is prescribed.

Taking note of the above allegation, Justice Chandrachud said, “This is not music to my ears. I was asked to eat the same tablet when I came down with COVID-19 a few weeks ago. This is a serious issue.”

The court was hearing a plea filed by the Federation of Medical & Sales Representatives Association of India (FMRAI) seeking direction to the Central Government to find solutions to control unethical practices.

The plea was filed 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."

The plea further stated that "Given the highly pernicious influence and power of the pharmaceutical industry over medicines, which are a social good because of their significance for individual lives, not only the production, sale, and distribution of medicines but also the marketing thereof, including both direct advertising and indirect promotion, become important public issues.”

In April 2022, Supreme Court issued notice in the plea and sought centre’s reply. Today, Additional Solicitor General KM Natraj informed the court that the response will be filed shortly. The court thus directed the centre to file a reply within 10 days.

Cause Title: Federation Of Medical And Sales Representatives Associations Of India And Ors. Versus Union Of India And Ors.