| NEW DELHI
NEW DELHI Dec 1 India's Delhi High Court stayed
on Thursday a government ban on 344 drugs that it deemed lacked
therapeutic efficacy, after over six months of hearing more than
300 petitions filed by drugmakers against it.
Sanjay Jain, a lawyer representing the central government,
told Reuters the government was evaluating the decision and
planned to appeal at a higher court. The exact reasons for the
stay are not yet known, as the order has not been made public
yet, but is expected to be uploaded on the court website.
Thursday's decision provides interim relief to several local
and multinational drugmakers operating in India's $15 billion
drugs industry whose business had been hit by the ban. Many,
however, had obtained stay orders days after the ban was
announced in March.
The move covered fixed-dose combination drugs, which are
cocktails of medicines that are used worldwide to improve
patients' compliance in complicated courses of treatment,
especially for conditions such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.
In India, however, lax regulation and inconsistent
enforcement of laws has led to many such drugs entering the
market without central government approval, a Reuters
investigation found last year. Roughly half the drugs sold on
the Indian market are combination medicines, including many
antibiotics, the misuse of which leads to antibiotic resistance.
The government announced the ban in March saying extensive
deliberations with scientific experts had found the medicines
lacked therapeutic efficacy. (reut.rs/2gKUfo2)
Most companies filed petitions arguing the government did
not exercise its powers appropriately.
The reversal of the ban means companies can continue to sell
The decision is another setback for India's efforts to weed
out irrational fixed-dose combination drugs from the market. A
similar move in 2007 to ban about 294 such drugs was also met
with stiff resistance from the industry, which obtained a stay.
(Writing by Zeba Siddiqui; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)