• Stay on drugs ban extended, Madras HC disagrees with Delhi HC

    March 23, 2016

    In a decision taken by the Delhi High Court, the stay on ban of more than 30 pharmaceutical medicines was extended till further notice. In a twist in the case, the Madras High Court refused to extend the stay on ban and said the FDCs notified by the union health ministry should not be sold, although no coercive steps should be taken against the drug stockists.


    The bench comprising judges Sanjay Krishan Kaul and MM Sundresh said, "We respectfully disagree with the view of the single judge of the Delhi High Court and not inclined to pass an all-encompassing order. We are of the view that the mere fact of the sale of medicines for the last so many years ipso facto cannot call for the sale to continue when an expert body has gone into this issue."


    Around a fortnight ago, the Health Ministry had banned around 350 Fixed Dose Combination (FDC) drugs which were widely available in the market before. The reason given was that the medicine's usage was “irrational” and without therapeutic efficacy. This created a huge uproar amongst the pharmaceutical companies and the public alike. Medicines like Phensedyle and Corex got banned in the process, all medicines based on a substance called Codine.The Centre has ordered a ban on the manufacture, sale and distribution of such drugs under Section 26(A) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.


    Soon after the verdict and a counter plea from the pharmceutical companies, relief was granted to Pfizer's cough syrup “Corex”. Later around 30 more copanies got released fom the ban. The 30-plus companies who sent a plea seeking the quashing of the ban included Pfizer, Glenmark, Procter and Gamble (P&G) and Cipla.


    The final hearing on the case has been scheduled by the Delhi HC the 28th of March, 2016.



    According to the Madras HC judges, the fact that these medicines have been in circulation for so many years is not reason enough for them to continue being in circulation when an expert body has looked into the matter. Fair enough. This is a rational statement. But the suspicion rises when the fact comes out that the “expert committee” undertook all its proceedings in complete secrecy. All the findings and research was not discussed with the manufacturers, stockists, agents, chemists and general public. This fact was recorded in the plea which was looked into by the Madras High Court filed by the South Indian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (SIPMA).


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