Pharma Companies must adhere UCPMP

Pharma companies must adhere UCPMP – Government Tightening the Rules

For marketing drugs, the government has asked drug makers and their associations to adhere to current guidelines as the allegations of doctors being bribed with foreign trips and gifts have rocked the pharmaceutical industry.

The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) wrote to industry associations that “It is requested to the pharma associations to ensure that the pharma companies adhere to the Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) provisions and during conferences, ensure that there is no unethical promotion of pharma products.”

With the rising clamor from various parties for reviewing guidelines for pharmaceutical marketing over allegations that companies, doctors are bribed with gifts, foreign trips, in a bid to make doctor prescribe their medicines more often, the government announces the letter.

An official said, currently, the government is reviewing the UCPMP and has met pharmaceutical companies.

An official said, “A few weeks back, the first meeting to review the guidelines was held the next meeting will be called soon. We have instructed the associations to strictly comply with the UCPMP as we could make out that none of the associations were strictly complying with it, in the first meeting.”

For the ethical marketing of pharmaceutical products, the UCPMP is a voluntary code under which pharmaceutical companies and their sales representatives are barred from giving free trips and gifts to doctors. As per the code, the doctor must go at their own cost even if the doctor goes for a conference.

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The co-convenor of All India Drug Action Network, Malini Aisola said, “The Department of Pharmaceuticals is still requesting companies to abide by a toothless, unenforceable UCPMP instead of taking steps to institute statutory regulation of unethical marketing and promotion. We cannot understand why DOP is refusing to do so given that all the stakeholders now, including patients groups, civil society, IMA and doctors bodies, and various industry associations are in agreement about bringing in a regulation.”

The Support for Advocacy and Training to Health Initiatives (SATHI), a non-governmental organization had reported in August that doctors are allegedly bribed with various gifts, ranging from X-ray equipment for the clinic, Apple phones costing ₹80,000 and pens and pen stand by the pharmaceutical companies.

The report said, “Some doctors who give huge business demand women for entertainment and these demands are met.”

Even to doctors practicing Ayurveda and other alternative medicines, the companies and their representatives would push allopathic products to them, said the report.

Considerable outrage was sparked by SATHI’s report, with a meeting where the pharmaceutical companies were asked not to give gifts to doctors by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Reacting to this, an organization of over 3 lakh doctors, the Indian Medical Association, sought clarification over PM Modi’s comments in a letter, which they alleged were based on unverified information.

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