Doctors demand that UCPMP be made Mandatory on pharma companies
New Delhi: Condemning the act of pharma sponsored freebies for medical practitioners, doctors under the body Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare (ADEH) have demanded that the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) be made Mandatory for the pharma companies.
As of now, the UCPMP, which was prepared by the Department of Pharmaceuticals in 2014 as a code of marketing practices for the Indian Pharmaceutical industry, remains voluntary to be adopted by pharma companies.
"It is unfortunate that even after 5 years the code remains Voluntary. This is despite the fact that global experience also shows that voluntary code does not work," stated the ADEH in its release
"The Prime Minister, as published in a section of the media recently warned Pharmaceutical Companies not to indulge in Unethical practices and stop giving Freebies to the Doctors with a purpose to procure business. However,any such deliberations occurred in the meeting with the prime minister has been denied by pharmaceutical companies.it may be pointed out here that the companies spend crores of rupees through Associations by sponsoring the medical conferences. they spend a huge amount on travel, accommodation and other expenditures on the doctors for lavish arrangements of the conferences," the release added
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 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.
Besides this, there are also several lacunas in the system as pointed out by the ADEH.
As per clause 7.2 of the UCPMP companies or their Associations/Representatives shall not extend any Hospitality like hotel accommodation to health care 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," ADEH expalined
" Unfortunately, the medical council of India (MCI) had amended THE INDIAN MEDICAL COUNCIL (PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT,ETIQUETTE & ETHICS) REGULATIONS,2002 in is meeting on 18 February 2014 and exempted the "professional association of doctors" from the purview of medical ethics. There is urgent need to take steps to reserve this amendment of the MCI and make the UCPMP mandatory," the organisation added
"It is also equally important that 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," the doctors under the body stated