Make pharmaceutical code of marketing practices mandatory
Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare issues release in Ludhiana today
Ludhiana: The Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare (ADEH) has demanded that the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) be made mandatory. It is unfortunate that even after 5 years the code remains voluntary. This is despite the fact that several medical organizations have demanded this repeatedly from the government. The global experience also shows that voluntary code does not work.
The Prime Minister, as published in a section of the media has warned pharmaceutical companies not to indulge in unethical practices and stop giving freebies to the doctors with a purpose to procure business. However, that any such deliberations occurred in the meeting with the Prime Minister has been denied by the pharmaceutical companies. It may be pointed out here that the companies spend crores of rupees through associations by sponsoring the medical conferences. They spend huge amount on travel, accommodation and other expenditures on the doctors for lavish arrangements of the conferences.
As per the clause 7.2 of the UCPMP “companies or their associations/representatives shall not extend any hospitality like hotel accommodation to healthcare practitioners and their family members under any pretext”. The implied meaning of this is that even extending benefits to the doctors through associations is unethical. But this is being flouted with impunity.
Unfortunately the Medical Council of India (MCI) had amended The Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette & Ethics) Regulations, 2002 in its meeting on 18 February 2014 and exempted the “Professional Associations of Doctors” from the purview of Medical Ethics. There is urgent need to take steps to reverse this amendment of the MCI and make the UCPMP mandatory.
Since the corporate hospitals are not covered under this ethics, they take advantage and openly flout the ethics. They should also be brought under the MCI regulations on ethics. It is also equally important that the any freebies from the Pharmaceutical companies be made taxable. These were taxable earlier but the decision was reversed later by the Pune Bench of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.
Without these steps the Prime Minister’s statement will remain only a rhetoric, particularly when the PMO has not clarified its position over the denial by the pharmaceutical companies about prime minister’s warning.
The release has been issued here today by Dr Arun Mitra and others on behalf of ADEH.