Enjoying the limelight for record sales for its antipyretic Dolo-650 during the second wave of covid-19 pandemic, pharmaceutical company Micro labs is again in highlight for last few months but for all the wrong reasons.
Firefighting the latest controversy over giving Rs 1,000 crore freebies to doctors for prescribing Dolo, Jayaraj Govindaraju, Executive Vice President, Marketing and Communication at Micro Labs Limited clarified, “We have certainly not spent 1000 Cr on Dolo 650 during COVID year, as no company can spend that much amount on a brand that achieved a peak sale of about 350 Cr in the last year.
Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives Association of India, citing a report by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) stating that the company gave over Rs 1,000 crore freebies to doctors for prescribing an irrational dose combination of Dolo-650.
“The amount mentioned was the total Marketing spend by the whole corporate for last several years cumulatively. Dolo 650 has been a popular and trusted brand which is a brand leader for over a decade now. During COVID it became all the more popular because it had become a front-line therapy to manage fever as per the treatment protocol. There are even other such medicines viz, Vitamin C and Zinc combinations which got a massive surge during COVID for the same reason,” argued Govindaraju reacting to the development.
“If we are asked to provide any explanation, data we will be ready to provide. As such some of the statements are baseless. Dolo 650, like all other strengths of Paracetamol, is very much under price control,” he said.
The PIL has sought to make pharmaceutical companies liable for giving freebies to doctors as an incentive to prescribe their drugs. The PIL further demands statutory backing to the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP).
The problems of the company started earlier in July when the Income Tax department conducted searches at the offices and residences of the top management of Micro Labs for alleged tax evasion. The searches were pertaining to financial documents, balance sheets and business distributor networks of the company.
Micro labs is into the manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceutical products and APIs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients). Major products of the company are Dolo-650, Amlong, Lubrex, Diapride, Vildapride, Olmat, Avas, Tripride, Bactoclav, Tenepride-M and Arbitel.
The company has 14 manufacturing units across the country dedicated to the manufacture of pharmaceuticals. The company has 22 marketing divisions catering to the leading therapeutic segments such as Cardiology, Diabetology, Pain management, Dermatology, Veterinary, Neurology, etc.
The antipyretic—a medicine used to treat fever and body ache—was in high demand in January 2022, cornering sales of Rs 51.79 crore or about 23.4 million strips, as per Pharmasofttech AWACS, a pharma market research company. In the 12 months of January to December 2021, Dolo 650 clocked sales of Rs 417 crore (about 189.4 million strips) as per AWACS. Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, almost every household today is aware of the drug.
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