In a bid to overhaul pharmaceutical marketing practices and uphold ethical standards, the Government of India has introduced the Uniform Code for Pharmaceuticals Marketing Practices (UCPMP) 2024. This code, spearheaded by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, aims to curb unethical practices prevalent in the industry, particularly concerning the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals.

The Indian government’s rollout of the Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) 2024 signals a decisive step towards fostering transparency, integrity, and ethical conduct within the pharmaceutical industry. Spearheaded by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, this initiative underscores the commitment to curbing misleading promotional activities and ensuring responsible marketing practices.

Promoting Ethical Promotion:

One of the pivotal features of the UCPMP 2024 is its stringent regulations on drug promotion. Pharma companies, along with their agents, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers, are explicitly prohibited from offering financial advantages or benefits in kind to healthcare professionals or their families. This prohibition extends to all forms of inducements, ensuring that promotional activities remain unbiased and focused solely on delivering accurate information about products.

Regulated Claims and Comparisons:

Under the UCPMP 2024, pharma companies are mandated to base claims about drug effectiveness on the latest evidence available. Comparisons between drugs must be conducted in a factual and fair manner, devoid of any disparagement towards competitors or their products. Additionally, promotional materials must adhere to standards of good taste, clearly distinguishable from editorial content, and provide accurate information to consumers.

Professional Conduct of Medical Representatives (MRs):

The code sets forth strict standards for the conduct of medical representatives (MRs), prohibiting the use of inducements to gain access to healthcare professionals. Companies are held accountable for ensuring the compliance of their employees with the code, emphasizing the importance of ethical conduct at all levels of pharmaceutical marketing.

Continuing Medical Education (CME) Guidelines:

Guidelines for Continuing Medical Education (CME) activities aim to ensure transparency and fairness in engagement with healthcare professionals. Companies are required to disclose event details, while organisers must transparently outline selection processes. Compliance with the Income Tax Act 1961 is mandatory for all parties involved, underscoring the commitment to ethical conduct in educational initiatives.

Complaint Mechanism and Penalties:

To enforce adherence to the UCPMP 2024, an Ethics Committee for Pharma Marketing Practices (ECPMP) has been established within each association. Any violations will be addressed promptly, with penalties including suspension, expulsion, reprimands, or corrective measures. An appellate authority is designated to review decisions, ensuring fairness in enforcement.

The implementation of the UCPMP 2024 marks a significant milestone in India’s regulatory framework for pharmaceutical marketing practices, heralding a new era of accountability, transparency, and ethical conduct within the industry.

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