bribe doctors to prescribe Dolo

Bribes received by Doctors to prescribe DOLO revealed

Pharma companies chose to bribe doctors to prescribe Dolo!

If you are an Indian or you live in India, I’m sure you’ve heard of the name dolo. It’s a pill. For some dolo 650 is synonymous with a painkiller, for some it is a go-to medicine for fever. In several Indian households, Paracetamol now means dolo.

How did this medicine become so popular?

Apparently through manipulation! The makers of dolo have been accused of bribing doctors that’s what the tax authority says, it says the makers of dolo gave doctors freebies worth a 1000 crore rupees. It says medical practitioners were bribed so that they could prescribe dolo to you. A body of medical representatives took this matter to India’s top court. One of the judges said what you’re saying is not music to my ears. This is exactly the drug that I had when I had COVID recently. I guess so did most of you. Indians consumed a record number of dolo tablets during the pandemic so much so that it was dubbed India’s favorite snack.

This medicine was launched in 1993. It soon became the number one paracetamol 650mg brand. Dolo maker micro Labs is based in Bangalore. It was selling around 7.5 Crore strips of dolo annually but during the pandemic sale shot through the roof. Between the start of the pandemic and January this year 2022, Indians bought 350 Crore dolo tablets. If you stack all of them up, the tower will be as tall as Burj Khalifa so you understand the popularity of this drug in India. The company made some 567 crore rupees during the pandemic.

Did other paracetamol tablets see a surge in sales?

They did but nothing beat dolo. In the summer 2021, For example, dolo sales were up more than 61% cal pol sales grew to 56%. As the pandemic peaked, dolo sales spiraled even though it was the more expensive one, it sold more. Dolo 650 costs 1.73 rupees per tablet compare that to the rest in this category.

Why did people pick dolo?

Because doctors prescribed it and now it appears that they were bribed to push for dolo. It’s about bribes worth a 1000 crore rupees. This is a very serious charge. It raises a much broader problem, the problem of pharma corruption. In February this year, 15 neurologists were found guilty of accepting sponsored trips from a pharma company. In june, an Indian pharma company was accused of bribing India’s drug standard control authority and now they have a case of dolo and call it what you will.

But I don’t find this surprising. It’s something that’s been very openly and obviously been happening in front of our very eyes and we chose to ignore. We know that doctors prescribe medicines only from certain selected brands. Those medicines are usually available at stores linked to those doctors in their vicinity. Private medical clinics have medical representatives walking in and out. None of this is illegal, but it does create enough room for manipulation.

The Indian Medical Council has a code of conduct for doctors. This code prohibits the acceptance of gifts, entertainment, travel facilities, hospitality, cash or monetary grants from pharma companies.

In February this year, India’s Supreme Court told pharma companies that giving freebies to doctors in exchange for promoting the sale of a drug is quote unquote expressly prohibited by law. But here a problem! The law addresses pharma companies not doctors. Here’s another problem! While the Medical Council of India can punish doctors for accepting bribes or freebies. India’s doctors associations are beyond the MCI’s jurisdiction. Also it takes seven doctors to form an association meaning what the Medical Council bars and association can overrule.

There are way too many loopholes in the system. And the result is this today a doctor can prescribe your medicine not because it’s good for you, but because it profits the company. It helps meet their sales targets. Doctors can also prescribe you medicines you don’t really need so that pharma company owners can become billionaires.

Where does that leave your body? Where does that leave India’s healthcare system? There is a solid case for the government to step in here for India’s parliament to make laws. A patient should know on what basis a medicine is being prescribed. And India needs laws against such medical malpractices.

It is dangerous when a prescription that is meant to save your life becomes corrupt. Countries around the world have rules against such corruption. Some have criminal sanctions, some have hefty fines on pharma companies. In 2019, Israel came up with a rule banning one-on-one meetings between doctors and pharma reps. In 2020, the US Swiss pharma company Novartis to pay $729 million. It was filed for kickbacks to doctors. In 2014, Israel’s team of Pharmaceuticals had to pay $27.6 million in settlements. In the US, the company has bribed a Chicago-based doctor to promote its drugs what is stopping India from cracking down on kickbacks. The world’s pharmacy cannot afford to be rigged by pharma corruption and the greed of some doctors cannot be allowed to tame the entire profession.