Whistleblower physician accuses IMA of harassing him for exposing an alleged endorsement deal
Whistleblower physician Dr. Babu K.V (working in Kerala) who brought to light the case of Indian Medical Association (IMA), the country’s largest non-government organisation of doctors, endorsing food products despite the code of medical ethics warning against such patronage, claims that he is being “harassed by IMA officials”.
“Anguished” at the attitude of IMA officials, Dr. Babu says he has now written to Medical Council of India (MCI) president Dr. K.K. Talwar asking him to intervene in the matter.
Dr. Babu says: “In May 2008, I came to know from the media that IMA was planning to endorse food products manufactured by a private company which was to fetch them Rs. 1.56 crore as endorsement money; I raised my objection against it. The IMA endorsement would have allowed the company to use the IMA logo and also a public health message on its products.”
“Since this is a violation of code of medical ethics and is also illegal, I wrote to the IMA asking them to stop the endorsement and made an official complaint to the MCI. The media, too, contacted me for details,” he added.
While the IMA stopped the endorsements, Dr. Babu says that the body issued a series of show cause notices against him. “The charge against me was that I complained to MCI against endorsements and spoke to the media about the same. The IMA is forcing me to comply with their endorsement indirectly by not protesting against the endorsement. I do not want to be bullied for being an accountable medical practitioner who cares about public health,” Dr. Babu claims, adding “it is unfortunate that though the MCI has enacted a Code of Medical Ethics for doctors, when a doctor is complying he is being harassed and threatened by a group of physicians. I feel that MCI and State medical councils are mute spectators, enjoying this drama. Ideally the MCI and the State medical councils should do away with the code of ethics or help doctors like me who dare to speak up against the system”.
Meanwhile, the MCI has termed it a “dispute between a member and the IMA”. “The ethics committee considered the matter and noted that this is a complaint by one Dr. Babu K.V, his main grievance is that the IMA, which is an association of medical practitioners, has taken a decision to expel him from the membership for exposing a private company for endorsement. This is a dispute between a member and the IMA and has nothing to do with violation of Ethics Regulation of MCI.”
The IMA stated that they have stopped the endorsement and denied any issues between the doctor and the association.