March 21: Giving interim relief to pharmaceutical companies, the Delhi High Court on Monday decided to hear the matter on March 28. Some of the well-known medicines on which the ban on sale has been lifted include Pfizer’s Corex cough syrup, Glaxo’s Piriton expectorant, P&G’s Vicks Action 500 extra, Reckitt’s D’Cold, Piramal’s Saridon, Glenmark’s Ascoril and Alex cough syrups, Abbott’s Phensedyl cough syrup and Alembic’s Glycodin cough syrup.
The high court had earlier stayed the Centre’s notification banning drugs manufactured by Abbott India and Macleods Pharma till Monday. The government had banned 344 drug combinations over the weekend, including Abbott’s codeine-based cough syrup, after a government panel found they had ‘no therapeutic justification’.
Last week the Health Ministry has banned 344 ‘Fixed Dose Combination’ (FDC) drugs, leading to an immediate suspension of the manufacturing and sale of some popular medicines in India.
Following the government ban, pharmaceutical major Pfizer has discontinued manufacture and sale of Corex with immediate effect. Fixed dose combination drugs are combinations of two or more active drugs in a single dose form.
The 22 healthcare companies have sought quashing of the government’s March 10 notification banning over 300 FDC drugs, including cough syrup compositions on the ground that they involve “risk” to humans and safer alternatives were available.
The companies have contended that the decision was taken by the government without issuing them a show cause notice or granting them a hearing. They have alleged that the notification was silent on the aspect as to which expert committee was appointed by Health Ministry to examine the safety and deficiency of the FDCs.
As per the notification, “On the basis of recommendations of an expert committee, the central government is satisfied that it is necessary and expedient in public interest to regulate by way of prohibition of manufacture for sale, sale and distribution for human use of said drugs in the country.”