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Doctors criticise govt. for backing out from making code on pharma firms mandatory

Image for representational purposes only   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

The Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Health Care (ADEH) has expressed anguish and disappointment over the recent reply by the Minister of Chemicals and fertilizers Sadanada Gowda in the Parliament that there is no decision yet from the part of the government to make Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) mandatory.

“UCPMP should be made mandatory to bring fairness in marketing of the drugs as the industry has failed to comply with the code on a voluntary basis,” said the group in its release.

The UCPMP was made voluntary for six months from 1st January 2015. It was to be reviewed after six months. ADEH has been demanding from time to time that the UCPMP be made mandatory to bring fairness in marketing of the drugs.

“The global experience also shows that voluntary code does not work. The government in 2016 had indicated that it would make the code statutory. But now this U-turn raises suspicion of lack of will on the part of the government to keep its commitment and smells of some unfair deals between the government and the pharma companies,” noted a statement issued by the group.

The group added that the issue has been brought to the fore as the non-compliance of the code by the pharma companies adds to the cost of drugs and encourages corrupt practices.

“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 Babu KV, member of ADEH.

He said that as per clause 7.2 of the UCPMP “companies or their associations/representatives shall not 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 by the pharma companies to promote their business,” he said.

ADEH said that it may be pointed out here that the then minister Ananth Kumar had said in the Rajya Sabha in June 2016 that the voluntary code which was introduced in 2015 has not yielded desired results and the government would make it mandatory.

“Therefore the present stance of the government is highly skeptical. The ADEH demands that the UCPMP should be made mandatory immediately,” added Arun Mitra, member ADEH.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 6:44:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/doctors-criticise-govt-for-backing-out-from-making-code-on-pharma-firms-mandatory/article32707336.ece

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