Apollo Pharmacy, the country's largest branded drug retail network with over 1,500 outlets, has temporarily suspended sale of medicines manufactured by Ranbaxy Laboratories. It has also stopped further procurement from the company for now. "Our medical committee, which is a very strong committee within Apollo, has reviewed the matter and recommended, as a cautionary measure, we should temporarily suspend sale of Ranbaxy medicines, as we cannot take a chance with patients' safety. So, we have immediately issued an advisory to our pharmacies," Apollo Hospitals Executive Director Shobana Kamineni told Business Standard. She added Apollo had sent a questionnaire to Ranbaxy seeking details, including re-certification of the existing stock and test reports for other medicines. "We have nothing against Ranbaxy but we must respect what our medical committee has ordered… We have asked them (Ranbaxy) to re-certify whatever stocks we have till now. We have also asked for test reports of all those drugs and a bunch of other details," Kamineni said, adding Apollo's pharmacies would restart sale of Ranbaxy drugs after the company had fulfilled the requirements and satisfied the medical committee. A Ranbaxy spokesperson said the company was committed to its philosophy of 'quality and patients first'. "We have met the CEO of Apollo Pharmacy; they have expressed complete trust in us and assured full support. Consultants continue to prescribe our products and we have continuous supply of our products in Apollo Hospitals," he said. Apollo Pharmacy is a division of healthcare major Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd (AHEL). The chain is present across the country, both as standalone standard format stores and those attached to AHEL hospitals and clinics.
The hospital, however, has not issued any separate advisory to its doctors. Apollo Pharmacy's move has come a little over a week after Mumbai's Jaslok Hospital issued an advisory to its doctors to avoid prescribing Ranbaxy drugs. Business Standard had last week reported that various other hospitals, including Apollo and the Gurgaon-based Medanta Medicity, were reviewing the situation and might follow suit. Medanta Chairman and MD Naresh Trehan said: "The situation is still under review. We have not yet issued any advisory but patients are certainly apprehensive about Ranbaxy-manufactured medicines". Jaslok officials refused to confirm whether or not the advisory is still in force. "We can only say that patient safety and quality are our policy and we will maintain those," said Jaslok's chief, RR Pulgaonkar. The Ranbaxy spokesperson, however, added: "Medanta continues to supply and prescribe Ranbaxy medicines. We have met CEO of Jaslok Hospital and he is satisfied with our response. We have started receiving orders." According to experts, such moves by hospitals and pharmacies are likely to impact Ranbaxy's revenues significantly. Officials in various hospitals said Ranbaxy executives were meeting them. "Ranbaxy officials have been meeting us. They met us last week," Kamineni said.