Over the distribution of substandard drug in 2006, the Mumbai suburban consumer disputes redressal forum, on Monday, slapped a fine of Rs 2.5 lakh on Wockhardt Ltd, a multinational pharmaceutical firm.
“Not only was there callousness and disregard towards the precious rights of common consumers, but the attitude of the opposite party (Wockhardt) during the trial too exhibited adamancy and disregard to common man’s life,” observed the forum while partly allowing a complaint filed by Sharad Tambe.
The Goregaon resident had approached the consumer forum in February 2007 after he found that, Wosulin 50:50, the drug that he purchased, was sub-standard. He contended that his health deteriorated on account of taking the defective drug and sought a compensation of Rs15 lakh.
Wockhardt, however, blamed the consumer for not storing the drug at right temperature. They also argued that the symptoms seen in Tambe could be due to a variety of reasons such as the lack of dietary control, improper dosage and exertion.
The forum bench comprising president JL Deshpande and members DS Bidnurkar and VG Joshi held Wockhardt guilty of deficiency in service by selling a sub-standard product. Apart from the material furnished by the complainant, the bench also considered the fact that the Food and Drugs Administration had seized samples from the same batch circulated in January 2006 and had found that it was of sub-standard quality.
The consumer forum has directed the company to pay Rs1.5 lakh to the complainant for the mental agony suffered by him and the deficiency in service by the company. While observing that, like Tambe, several other persons could have suffered adverse physical effects, the forum imposed an additional compensation of Rs1 lakh to be paid to the Consumer Welfare Fund. The forum has given the firm six weeks’ time to deposit the amount.
“The company will abide by the court’s decision in the interest of the consumers,” said a spokesperson of the company.