Follow ethical marketing, do NOT bribe Doctors: PM Modi warns pharma giants
New Delhi: Taking strict cognizance of the issue of unethical marketing practices in the pharma doctor relations, the Prime minister of the country recently pulled up the various pharma companies, warning them to follow ethical marketing and stop with the attempt of bribing doctors with freebies.
The warning is reported to have come in a meeting held with top pharma giants, report various media reports
The meeting that took place on the 1st January 2020 with the PM was attended top executives from the industry including Mr Satish Reddy (Dr Reddy's), Mr Ajay Piramal (Piramal Group), Mr Pankaj Patel (Cadila Healthcare), Mr Dilip Shanghvi (Sun Pharma), Dr Habil Khorakiwala (Wockhardt), Dr Rajiv Modi, (Cadila Pharma), Mr Sudhir Mehta (Torrent), Mr Pavan Choudhary (MTAI) and Ms Shobana Kamineni (Apollo Hospitals).
The meeting was called to discuss future roadmap for the growth of the healthcare industry. The focus of discussion was on: Research and Development, building an innovation ecosystem, improve access to high-quality medicine and strengthen the global competitiveness of the industry. India is rightly described as the pharmacy of the world with 20%o volume share of the global market. The purpose was to take the industry to next level and leverage opportunities going forward in the pharma sector besides discussing growth opportunities in Medtech and hospital sector.
While issues were discussed and future of the industry was discussed, Narendra Modi warned the drugmakers not to bribe doctors and adhere to marketing ethics reported the Print as well as TOI.
"The issue of unethical use of marketing tactics has been escalated to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) which, in turn, made calls to some top drug-makers and fixed a meeting with the PM," a senior government official who attended the meeting told the daily Print
The issue of unethical marketing practices used by pharma to onboard doctors to prescribe their medicines is indeed a growing concern in today's times. Recently, study which was conducted by NGO Support for Advocacy and Training to Health Initiatives (SATHI) pointed to regulatory failures by MCI in bringing curtail on doctor-pharma nexus.
Currently, freebies for doctors is against both the MCI ethics of doctors as well as the Uniform Code of Pharmaceuticals Marketing Practices (UCPMP) and (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulation, 2002.
As per the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulation, 2002, doctors are mandatorily prohibited from taking gifts, travel facilities, hospitality and cash or monetary grants from pharmaceutical and allied health sector industry.
The said regulation authorises the Medical Council of India (MCI) and respective State Medical Councils to award punishment to a doctor against any act in violation of the code of Ethics for doctors.
The similar regulations are mentioned on the pharma front in the Uniform Code of Pharmaceuticals Marketing Practices (UCPMP) 2017. However, unlike the MCI regulations, UCPMP is a voluntary code for pharmaceutical companies implying its violations could not bring any kind of punishment on the pharma companies.
While speaking to Medical Dialogues team, spokesperson of the Indian Pharmaceutical alliance clarified that there was no discussion on Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practice in the meeting, print reports that PM delved on the issue of marketing practices by the pharma companies.
"The PM told drug-makers that their non-compliance with marketing practices is pushing the government to create a strict law. He has warned about bringing in a statutory provision, and indicated that the ministry (of chemicals and fertilisers) has been asked to start working on it," a senior government official told The Print.