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How desi Dolo 650 outsold MNC GSK’s Crocin, became India’s ‘favourite snack’ in Covid waves

Dolo 650 is now India’s favoured paracetamol brand, with sales of Rs 567 crore since March 2020. It’s even trending on social media and is the subject of memes.

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New Delhi: You thought Crocin was the go-to paracetamol tablet for a headache, body ache or fever? You thought wrong.

It’s Dolo 650, which has clocked sales of Rs 567 crore during the pandemic from March 2020 and topped the charts, so much so that it’s being called a “favourite snack” as India grapples with the third wave of Covid. #Dolo650 trended on social media in a meme-fest all last week.

But what’s the magic behind this pill that gets doctors to prescribe it?

A glance at the paracetamol sales data from January 2020 revealed that Dolo 650 has been one of the dominant players till now, followed by Calpol and Sumo L. In all, there are 37 brands of paracetamol that are top-sellers in different regions of India.

Data with IQVIA, a human data science and advanced analytics firm in healthcare, shows that Dolo and Calpol are the key brands driving the paracetamol segment. While Dolo 650 is manufactured by Bengaluru-based Micro Labs Ltd, Calpol is manufactured by GSK Pharmaceuticals. Each of these brands has regional dominance and is widely prescribed by doctors. 

Dolo 650 clocked sales of Rs 28.9 crore in December 2021, up 61.45 per cent from the same month the previous year. However, its highest sales figures are from April and May 2021, at the peak of the second wave of Covid, when it witnessed sales of Rs 48.9 crore and Rs 44.2 crore respectively.

In comparison, sales of Calpol — the second most sold paracetamol brand in December 2021 — stood at Rs 28 crore, up 56 per cent from December 2020. Calpol was the most sold paracetamol at the peak of the second wave, with Rs 71.6 crore in sales in April 2021.

Other popular brands of paracetamol include Fepanil, P-250, Pacimol, and Crocin.

Graphic: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint
Graphic: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint

Why Dolo 650?

Doctors and pharmaceutical associations told ThePrint that one reason behind Dolo 650’s success is the fact that it’s still a medicine that doctors prescribe, unlike Crocin.

Moreover, doctors prescribe Dolo 650 as it can be given to people of all ages and has minimal side effects.

“Dolo 650 is one of the brands of paracetamol, which is a time-tested and common medicine to treat fever. It is no different from other brands like Crocin, Calpol, Pacimol etc. It’s a relatively safe medicine and can be taken by people of all ages and by those suffering from heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes,” said Dr Ritesh Gupta, additional director at the Fortis C-DOC Hospital for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases in Delhi.

Dr Gupta said the main symptoms of Covid in the third wave are fever, cough, throat pain, and body ache. The symptoms are mild and usually resolve in four or five days.

Anil Navandar, who is general secretary of the Maharashtra State Chemists & Druggists Association, said Dolo 650 has become a brand whose name is used interchangeably with paracetamol itself — just like Bisleri or Xerox for their respective products — and therefore has a strong recall value.

“There is a trend of having paracetamol in case of mild fever and bodyache. The way Bisleri has become a huge brand, Dolo 650 has become a brand. In fact, it has become a trend for this segment,” said Navandar.

Who manufactures Dolo 650?

Dolo 650 is manufactured by Micro Labs Limited, a Bengaluru-based privately held firm that was founded in 1973 by a pharmaceutical distributor, G.C. Surana. The company is currently run by his son, managing director Dilip Surana.

Its core areas of expertise include cardiology, diabetology, ophthalmology, and dermatology, among others. Apart from Dolo 650, the company also sells brands such as Amlong, which is used to treat high blood pressure, and the anti-diabetic drug Tenepride.

According to the company’s website, it has an annual turnover of Rs 2,700 crore, which includes exports of Rs 920 crore.  

(Edited by Rohan Manoj)

Also read: Paracetamol, pain killers not recommended for children after Covaxin shot, says Bharat Biotech


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