NEW DELHI: A body of ethical doctors, which includes top medical professionals, has expressed disappointment over the recent government disclosure in Parliament that there is no decision to make the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices mandatory.
UCPMP is a voluntary code issued by the Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Union Ministry of Chemical and Fertilizers relating to marketing practices for pharmaceutical companies as well as the medical devices industry.
A key feature of the code is that no gifts, pecuniary advantages or benefits in kind may be supplied, offered or promised by a pharma company or its agents to persons qualified to prescribe or supply drugs.
The code was made voluntary for six months from the beginning of 2016 and was to be reviewed after six months.
The Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare (ADEH) on Saturday said that it has been demanding from time to time that the UCPMP 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.
“The global experience also shows that voluntary code does not work,” the association also said in a statement, pointing out that in 2016, the government 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 pharma companies, said the alliance.
As per the ADEH, the issue has been brought to the fore as non-compliance with the code by 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 medical conferences,” it said adding that they spend a huge amount on travel, accommodation and other expenditures on doctors for lavish arrangements of the conferences.