Union Health Ministry has renewed its concern at unethical practices by pharma companies who were keen to add to the cost of medicines and exploiting the healthcare professionals.
The Ministry is likely to take up the issue formally with the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) to implement strict steps to contain unethical practices by the companies, as DoP already had prepared a draft code for voluntary implementation by the industry. The Ministry may also recommend mandatory implementation of the code through legislation.
Though there are no statistical and other evidence, the Ministry is of the view that the aggressive promotion of drugs by pharmaceutical companies through medical professionals in lieu of gifts, hospitality, trips to foreign and domestic destinations, etc., not only ultimately adds to the cost of medicines but also induces them to prescribe costly irrational medicines, according to sources in the Ministry.
The views by the Health ministry may reignite the debate about the having mandatory code, which was also recommended by the Planning Commission some time back. The DoP had prepared the draft Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) to be adopted voluntarily in the first instance. The draft UCPMP was put up by that Department way back in July 2011, but so far no further step was taken to ascertain the impact of the same.
Pharmaceutical marketing and aggressive promotion also contributes to irrational use. There is a need for a mandatory code for identifying and penalising unethical promotion on the part of pharma companies. Mandated disclosure by Pharmaceutical companies of the expenditure incurred on drug promotion, ghost writing in promotion of pharma products to attract disqualification of the author and penalty on the company, and vetting of drug related material in Continuing Medical Education would be considered, according to the Planning Commission.