Mumbai: Procter and Gamble Hygiene and Healthcare Ltd, an Indian unit of the world’s largest consumer goods company, is considering challenging a government order that asked the company to stop selling cold and flu pill Vicks Action 500 Extra, the company said on Tuesday.

“We are aware of the recent notification issued by the central government (health ministry) in relation to fixed dose combination (FDC) drugs which impacts a large number of products in the market. Accordingly, we have stopped manufacturing and distributing Vicks Action 500 Extra. However, we are evaluating all our options to challenge this notification," said a company spokesperson in an email statement.

The company further stated that the health, safety and well-being of its consumers is its number one priority. Vicks products, including Vicks Action 500 Extra, are backed by research to support their safety, quality and efficacy, it said. Vicks has been providing trusted remedies for relieving cold and flu symptoms for over 100 years. It has products approved by government regulators in over 60 countries.

To be sure, other Vicks products such as Vaporub, Inhaler and Throat Drops are still available for sale.

“Our product Vicks Action 500 Extra has the same fixed dose combination and gets covered under this notification," said Shailyamanyu Singh Rathod, director, P&G, in a statement on Tuesday.

Vicks Action 500 Extra is a combination of paracetamol, phenylephrine and caffeine and is a popular over-the-counter drug for relieving cold and flu symptoms.

The central government on Saturday banned 344 fixed dose combination of drugs based on the recommendation of an expert committee that the said category is found to have no therapeutic justification. An FDC drug contains two or more drugs combined in a fixed ratio of doses and is available in a single dose.

Shares of P&G declined 1% to 6,067.85 on BSE, while the benchmark Sensex fell 1.02% to 24,551.17 points.

Pharmaceutical companies have begun weighing their options to challenge the order. Pfizer Ltd, the Indian unit of US-based Pfizer Inc., on Monday got a stay from Delhi high court against the government order to ban its popular cough syrup Corex. Last year, the government reviewed some 6,200 combination drugs, of which some 15-20% were considered “irrational", a Reuters report said quoting an unnamed government official in December.

According to analysts, the ban could cost Indian drug makers about 3,500 crore to 3,800 crore.

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