The Delhi High Court today granted interim stay of notification restraining sale of pharma major Pfizer’s cough syrup ‘Corex’ and directed the government not to take coercive steps against the company. Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw granted the interim relief to the company saying it has been selling the cough syrup for the last 25 years.
The court also issued notice to the Health ministry directing it to file status report after taking instruction on what was the finding of the expert committee set up by it
following which sale of over 300 drugs’ combination have been banned across India with effect from March 10.
“List on Monday. Till then the effect of notification qua the petitioner shall remain stayed. No coercive steps till then,” the court said.
The court’s order came on a plea moved by Pfizer who contended that no show cause notice or hearing was granted prior to the notification.
Central government Standing Counsel Kirtiman Singh supported the notification, saying there are various complaints of misuse of drugs. The counsel said he will obtain instructions and file a short affidavit.
Pfizer has sought quashing of the government’s March 10 notification contending they have been in market for 25 years and Corex is a prescription drug.
During the hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Pfizer, contended, “The said drug (Corex) is being marketed in other countries as well, so the government was wrong in restraining us.”
He further submitted the notification has not stated that any inquiry was held prior to it but an expert committee was set up.
On this, the judge said, “How can the company, which is in market for 25 years, be banned without opportunity? Did the expert committee give any reason?”
In its plea, Pfizer said, due to the notification sales of the cough syrup have come to a grinding halt causing immense duress to the company as well as consumers and patients.
The company said the ban would lead to huge financial loss as well apart from exposing the company to criminal prosecution under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
According to the ministry’s 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 the said drugs in the country.”
The 344 banned drugs include the fixed dose combination of Chlopheniramine Maleate and Codeine syrup sold under the popular cough syrup brand Corex.
Following the government ban, pharmaceutical major Pfizer 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.