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HC allows Wockhardt to sell its anti-inflammatory drug till September 18

Press Trust of India/New Delhi 14 Sep 18 | 07:30 PM

The Delhi High Court Friday allowed Indian pharma major Wockhardt to sell till next Tuesday its anti-inflammatory medicine, which is among the 328 fixed-dose combinations (FDC) drugs banned by the Centre a week ago.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru, in an interim order, allowed the company to sell its drug -- Ace Proxyvon -- till September 18, the next date of hearing, and asked the Health Ministry to place before it all relevant records based on which it had arrived at the decision to ban the medicine.

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Additional Solicitor General Maninder Acharya and central government standing counsel Anil Soni appeared for the ministry.

Soni told PTI that the court has allowed Wockhardt to continue selling its drug till September 18.

The petition by Wockhardt was mentioned before a bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and A K Chawla, which allowed it to be listed before an appropriate bench for hearing today itself.

However when the court rose at 5.00 PM, the petition file had not reached the designated bench till then from the high court's registry which is entrusted with the task of listing of the matters.

The matter was taken up for hearing after 6.00 PM.

The ministry by its September 7 notification had banned the manufacture, sale and distribution of 328 FDC drugs. FDCs are two or more drugs combined in a fixed ratio into a single dosage form.

Ace Proxyvon, which is sold by the company in a tablet form, is a mixture of three salts -- aceclofenac, paracetamol and rabeprazol -- a combination which is banned.

The pharma company, which claims to have been manufacturing and selling the drug for over 11 years now, contended that it has not been provided with the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) report, based on which the decision was taken.

It claimed that the only reason given in the September 7 notification was that the combination had no therapeutic value. The medicine is reportedly prescribed for people with painful rheumatic conditions, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

The Health Ministry had, through a notification of March 10, 2016, prohibited 349 FDCs for manufacture, sale and distribution under Section 26 A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. The notification was then contested by the pharma companies in the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court.

The high court in December 2016 had quashed the ban on the FDCs, which was challenged by the Centre in the apex court.

The top court had in December last year set aside the high court order and referred the banned FDCs to DTAB for re-examination.

Complying with the apex court direction, an expert panel set up by DTAB, in its report to the Centre, had stated that there was no therapeutic justification for the ingredients contained in 328 of the 349 FDCs, which may also involve risk to humans.

The Board had recommended that it was necessary to prohibit the manufacture, sale or distribution of these FDCs under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 in larger public interest.

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