IMA & IPA Respond to PM’s Warning to Pharma

Following the news of warning issued by PM to top pharma companies to follow ethical marketing practices, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) demanded that the Govt. share proof of bribes being given by pharma companies to doctors. 

In a statement titled: ‘Deny or Prove or Apologise’, the IMA asked the Govt. to confirm if a meeting between the PM and pharma officials ever happened and prove the allegations made against doctors or apologize.

Excerpt from the IMA’s media release:

Reports have appeared in the media regarding the purported statement of Hon. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi that top pharmaceutical companies bribed doctors with women. IMA takes strong exception to the statement if it has been really made by the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) issued a press release of its own, stating that although the PM held a meeting with leading drug makers, they did not discuss the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP).

Excerpt from the IPA’s press release:

The meeting was called to discuss future roadmap for growth of the healthcare industry. The focus of discussion was on: Research and Development, building innovation ecosystem, improve access to high quality medicine and strengthen global competitiveness of the industry….There was no discussion on uniform code for pharmaceutical marketing practices in the meeting.

What Happened on January 1st?

On January 1st, 2020, top drug makers of India were summoned by the PMO to discuss the issue of non-compliance to marketing ethics while promoting drugs to prescribers.

According to a senior government official who attended the meeting,

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 fertilizers) has been asked to start working on it.

This meeting followed a report published by Pune-based NGO, Support for Advocacy and Training to Health Initiatives (SATHI), which alleged rampant use of bribes by pharma marketers to boost drug prescriptions in India. The bribes offered to doctors included but were not limited to smartphones, e-vouchers, credit cards and foreign trips. The report was based on 50 in-depth interviews of medical representatives, area sales managers, medical doctors, and pharma executive directors.

The unholy nexus between doctors and pharma has long been criticized and there have been talks of the Govt. working towards enforcing the UCPMP (see existing UCPMP guidelines Here).

Following these developments, several industry observers expressed their concern stating that questionable marketing practices will further deepen the trust deficit between healthcare stakeholders, Govt. and the public, and therefore called for immediate action to reform pharma marketing.

In your opinion, what is the best way to promote ethical marketing in healthcare?

Source: Times of India, The Hindu


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