Department of Pharmaceutical asks industry to regulate promotional practices
The department of pharmaceuticals held a meeting on 23rd December, 2019, to look into the implementation of the uniform code (uniform code means a similar set of rules and regulations which shall be laid down for all pharmaceutical companies with regards to the marketing methods for selling their medical products) for pharmaceutical marketing practices which shall be adopted by all the pharmaceuticals companies. The pharmaceutical companies offer free medical samples to various medical professionals and therefore, the department of the pharmaceutical company regulates the ways of marketing their medical products and conducts the promotional practices as per the due process of law. This meeting was held to review the marketing practices of the pharmaceutical companies which shall be adopted by the Pharma companies.
The promotion of medical products should always be done in an ethical manner and they should introduce the medical products which shall be helpful for the treatment of a specific set of diseases.
Complaints against unethical marketing practices
Many complaints have come up regarding the illegal and unethical practices to promote a medical product and therefore, the department of pharmaceuticals has been set up to keep a strict watch on the violations made and as well as keeping an eye on the marketing practice.
The direction given by the secretary of the department
The Secretary of the Department of Pharmaceuticals has directed both the domestic and international Pharma companies that they should strictly comply with the code of ethics provided by the Indian Medical Council. A lobby group has also been created by the department of pharmaceutical where they can share comments and issues which they are facing weekly.
The meeting was conducted by the chairman of the Department of Pharmaceuticals Company shall also be chaired by the chairperson of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority and also with other senior officials of both the departments.
The unethical method of marketing practices
The recent study by a non- governmental organisation ‘Saathi’ mentioned that their promotional methods still lack the proper conduct of marketing practices according to them as the medical representatives revealed that the Pharma companies bribe the medical practitioners directly or indirectly. For example: by giving them the bribe of foreign trips, expensive smartphones, jewellery and even tickets to entertainment events can be considered a form of bribe and any such other materialistic bribes to the doctors and the other medical staff.
The medical representatives of various pharmaceutical companies also reported that there was extreme pressure on them for achieving high sales target for their Pharma companies. Thus, the bribing practice shall be strictly regulated by the Indian Medical Council Regulations, 2002. The complaints of such malpractice have been sent to the department of pharmaceutical.
The department of pharmaceuticals has been striving since the year 2016 to draft and implement strict regulations for some marketing practices which should not give gifts or any sort of benefits to the medical practitioners due to which they may promise to prescribe such drugs to their patients. It was also initiated to draft transparency of the marketing practices which shall be carried out for the products.
The Canadian government has drafted specific guidelines and also has laid down criteria for the licensing of various products which also includes medical products. The Canadian government also states that while advertising products give some profits to the company which is involved, the company cannot advertise false claims and should not mislead the consumers, and also the Pharma companies should be more careful as many lives are at stake when it comes to medical products and its effectiveness in treating diseases.
Despite initiating the code for regulating the marketing practices for Pharma companies and even after respective amendments made in the year 2015, still, the unethical way of marketing Pharma products haven’t changed a bit. The code made for protecting those marketing practices has failed to deter such marketing practices, and therefore guidelines can be laid down for marketing the medical products in a similar way as in the case of other countries.
If the pharmaceutical companies violate the rights of the medical practitioners in totality, then the department of pharmaceutical will make it compulsory for everyone to follow the rules and regulations, as discussed in the meeting and strict penal provisions shall be implied for those individuals who violate the laws which are made for governing the marketing practices for medical products in India and also internationally.
Therefore, it is a need to enact new laws for regulating the promotional methods of medical representatives, and so that rights of the medical practitioners are also protected and strict penalty shall be imposed on the individuals or the company who tries to achieve their sales target through unethical methods of marketing practices in India. A uniform set of guidelines should be established by all the companies until an act is not formulated.