The Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare has demanded that the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices be made mandatory. “It is unfortunate that even after 5 years the code remains voluntary. This is despite the fact that several medical organisations have demanded this repeatedly from the government,” it said.
The statement comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly warned pharmaceutical companies not to indulge in unethical practices and stop giving freebies to the doctors with a purpose to procure business.
“The global experience also shows that the voluntary code does not work,” noted a statement issued by the group even while pharmaceutical companies have denied that deliberations on this subject occurred in the meeting.
“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,” said the Alliance.
As per law “companies or their associations/representatives are not to extend any hospitality like hotel accommodation to healthcare 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, the group noted.
The Medical Council of India (MCI) had amended The Indian Medical Council (Professional conduct, etiquette and ethics) regulation 2002 in its meeting on February 18, 2014 and exempted the “Professional Associations of Doctors” from the purview of Medical Ethics.
“There is urgent need to take steps to reverse this amendment,” said the statement.
They added that since the corporate hospitals are not covered under this regulation, they take advantage and openly flout ethics.
“They should also be brought under the regulation on ethics. 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,” said the Alliance.-The Hindu