Govt directs pharma not to pay for doctors' hotels, sight seeing at conferences
Govt puts the brunt of UCPMP implementation on Pharma Associations
New Delhi: Putting the responsibility of implementation of the mandatory Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practice (UPCMP) on various pharma associations, the Department of Pharmaceuticals has asked them to ensure that pharma companies do not arrange for any accommodations or other freebies for doctors.
"Department has received a grievance alleging that pharma companies arrange hotels accommodations in five star hotels, local right seeing etc in conferences conducted by the doctors " said the Deputy Director, Department of Pharmaceutical, Ministry of Chemical and Fertilizers in her letter to various pharma associations including IDMA, BDMA, IPA, OPPI and FOPE.
In her letter the Deputy Director particularly referred to the fact that similar to other conferences, the annual national conference of Indian Psychiatric Society 2020 will be conducted in Kolkata and in 2021 at Vishakhapatnam.
"Pharma associations are requested to make sure that the pharma companies adhere to the provisions of the Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practice (UCPMP) and no unethical promotion of pharma products is done during such conferences," the letter said
Doctors demand UCPMP needs to be Mandatory- demands doctors
Medical Dialogues team had earlier pointed out 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 authorizes 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.
However, while the similar regulations are mentioned on the pharma front in the Uniform Code of Pharmaceuticals Marketing Practices (UCPMP). 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.
" For the longest time, doctors have been bearing the brunt of the accusations of freebies from the pharma companies. But when the time comes for the government to nip the problem in the bud, its looking the other way. Its been 5 years since the code was first introduced for the pharma sector and its yet to be adopted by pharma companies. Government should urgently make UCPMP mandatory on pharma companies," said Dr Prem Aggarwal, President, National Medical Forum