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Explained: Under tax lens now, how Micro Labs made Dolo-650 Covid pandemic’s go-to fever drug

Dolo-650 manufacturer Micro Labs Ltd is under the income tax scanner for suspected tax evasion. The company saw a rise in sales of Dolo-650 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Written by Anonna Dutt , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: July 8, 2022 11:43:13 am
Dolo-650 manufacturer Micro Labs Limited office where Income Tax Department conducted searches on charges of alleged tax evasion, in Bengaluru, Wednesday, July 6, 2022. (PTI Photo)

Bengaluru-based pharmaceutical company Micro Labs Ltd, the manufacturer of Dolo-650 tablet, is under the income tax scanner for suspected tax evasion.

The tax department is looking at financial records and statements of the company as part of the searches, officials said.

What is Dolo-650?

Dolo-650 is nothing but a medicine with 650 mg of paracetamol, an antipyretic (fever reducing) and analgesic (pain reducing) drug.

The medicine is prescribed for reducing fever and pain, and was widely used during Covid-19 pandemic.

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What made Dolo-650 pandemic’s go-to fever drug?

Easy availability and being the doctors’ preferred prescription during the second wave are among reasons that have fuelled the rise in sales of Dolo-650.

Bhupendra Kumar, general secretary of the Indian Pharmacist Association, said, “Crocin and Dolo are the most commonly prescribed brands of paracetamol. However, Crocin is more readily available in a 500 mg formulation whereas Dolo is available in a 650 mg formulation. Since people were getting high fever during the second wave, many doctors were prescribing Dolo.”

Though the brand started out as a preferred prescription during the second wave, many have continued to use it without prescription since.

Kumar added, “If a doctor writes one prescription, it is circulated on WhatsApp and 10 people use it. That is how Dolo became a household name and people started using it for all fevers, aches and pains.”

Kanav Nangia, a Delhi-based drug stockist, said this was aided by the easy availability and cost of Dolo-650.

“The supply of Crocin hasn’t been regular through the pandemic; there were periods when it was not readily available. The other alternative was Calpol, but it costs more than Dolo. This is the reason Dolo became popular during the pandemic,” he said.

“Dolo initially marketed itself as a prescription drug, which unlike say Crocin was not commonly known to people, and pushed their sales through marketing to physicians. Now, everyone knows about it and buys it,” a pharma market expert said.

Dr Gurpreet Sandhu, president of a think tank — Council for Healthcare and Pharma, added: “Dolo just managed to cultivate its brand, especially among doctors, in the early days of the pandemic and its reaping the benefits. Don’t get me wrong, it is a very effective and affordable medicine.”

Dolo-650 manufacturer Micro Labs Limited office in Bengaluru. (PTI Photo)

How other paracetamol brands fared against Dolo?

There was an increase in sales of all brands of paracetamol as it is the safest medicine for fever that was prescribed to almost everyone with Covid-19.

The total revenue generated by paracetamol increased by 138.42 per cent between the second quarter of 2020 and the second quarter of 2021, when India was witnessing the second wave of the pandemic.

The revenue generated by Dolo-650 increased by 289.6 per cent in the same period, according to data provided by market research firm AIOCD-AWACS.

In the same time, revenue generated by two popular brands of paracetamol by GlaxoSmithKline – Crocin and Calpol – increased by 53 per cent and 158.9 per cent, respectively. The revenue of the brand Sumo, manufactured by Alkem laboratories, went up by 110.6 per cent, as per the data.

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First published on: 07-07-2022 at 01:45:28 pm
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