Over the last few weeks, with the Omicron wave gaining a stronghold, social media platforms have been abuzz with wild memes and posts on the pain-relief pill Dolo 650. As a result, the market share of the pill — sold by Bangalore-based Micro Labs — sky-rocketed in December (see graphic), and is showing a spike this month too. Dolo 650 has 650mg of paracetamol, which is an antipyretic (for fever) and analgesic (for pain relief).
Estimates suggest over 80 memes are in circulation, giving rise to concerns about the indirect promotion of prescription medicines, their irrational use and inappropriate self-medication. More importantly, experts point out that the promotion and advertisement of medicines is in violation of the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, and should not be allowed to go unchecked. Since paracetamol is a scheduled drug, it cannot be promoted under the Act for fever.
“Many patients are self-medicating without even a proper diagnosis — this may even lead to serious side-effects,” Indian Medical Association’s general secretary Dr Jayesh Lele told TOI.
“Dolo has become a four-letter word brand of great utility and ubiquity for many. This, in turn, has led to a Dolo 650-in-every-house kind of movement. For an OTC (over-the-counter), this is a super-brand status,” brand strategy expert Harish Bijoor said. Micro Labs was taken by surprise. Executive VP (marketing) Jayaraj Govindaraju said, “We have been promoting it as per law, and there are statutory warnings on the pack.” While paracetamol is known to be a well-tolerated drug when taken within prescribed dose range, overdosage may be associated with severe liver and pancreatic injury, they add.