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The Supreme Court on 18 August described the matter -- raised by an NGO -- relating to the CBDT's allegation against the makers of Dolo tablets that they had distributed freebies worth about 1,000 crore to doctors for prescribing their 650 mg anti-inflammatory, fever reducer drug as a 'serious issue'.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh and advocate Aparna Bhat -- appearing for petitioner 'Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives Association of India' -- told a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna 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 the Pharma company concerned.

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The company manufacturing Dolo tablets distributed freebies to doctors to prescribe the 650 mg drug to ensure a higher profit margin, the advocate Parikh alleged. The advocate also 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.

Following this, the bench asked the Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj to file his response to the plea by the petitioner in ten days and gave one week time thereafter to the latter to file his rejoinder and listed the matter for further hearing on 29 September.

Earlier on 14 July, the Central Board of Direct Taxes(CBDT) had accused the makers of the Dolo-650 tablet of indulging in "unethical practices" and distributing freebies worth about 1,000 crore to doctors and medical professionals in exchange for promoting products made by the pharmaceutical group.

These claims were made after the Income Tax department had on July 6 raided 36 premises of the Bengaluru-based Micro Labs Ltd. across nine states.

On 11 March, the apex court had 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.

The top court had then said that it wants to know what the government has to say on this issue.

With PTI inputs. 

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