PM Modi Warns Indian Pharma Companies to Follow Ethical Marketing

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has issued a strict warning to Indian Pharma Industry that it must adhere to ethical marketing practices, failing which, the government will make the Uniform Code of Pharmaceuticals Marketing Practices (UCPMP) mandatory. 

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.

Following the report’s release, the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) secretary P.D. Vaghela conducted a review meeting with the Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA), the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) and the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) where he questioned their failure to adhere to the UCPMP guidelines which were released in 2011.

Existing UCPMP Guidelines

UCPMP-Guidelines-Docplexus

In another incident related to medical marketing, the Madras High Court admonished doctors, pharma and medical diagnostic companies for forming a cartel to dupe patients. Calling the three parties ”Medical Mafia” the high court judges accused them of raising the prices of drugs by resorting to bribery and other unethical means. They also demanded a separate Union Ministry for Pharma and enforcement of the UCPMP Act. They raised these issues in an interim order passed on an income-tax appeal made by a private pharma company that had spent INR 42.81 lakh in 2012-13 towards sales promotion expenses that included payments made to doctors and claimed tax exemption for the same.

Do you think the proposed UCPMP Act will resolve the issue of unethical pharma marketing?

Source: The Print, The Hindu, Hindustan Times


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