Code for pharma marketing practices may be enforced soon
New Delhi: A uniform code for pharma marketing practices could be imposed soon as a revised final draft of a code regulating promotional practices in the pharmaceuticals industry has been sent to the law ministry for inspection, states recent news in Mint.
In August, law ministry has sent back the earlier draft to the department of pharmaceuticals (DoP) putting a barrier to the government plan of bringing a code to restrain unethical promotional practices saying that the “power of imposing financial penalties with regard to the offence was not aligned with the legal framework of the Essential Commodities (EC) Act.”
The law ministry had also sought a clarification on whether the proposed Uniform Code of Pharmaceuticals Marketing Practices (UCPMP) was similar to the professional conduct, etiquette and ethics code of the Indian Medical Council, which doctors must follow in their relationship with pharmaceutical and allied health services firms.
The law ministry also said some of the provisions of the EC Act were not strictly covered and suggested that the proposal may be brought under the ambit of the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO), the people cited above said.
Now, the pharmaceuticals department of the chemicals and fertilizers ministry has sent a revised final draft of a code to the law ministry for final clearance without any changes in the quantum of penalties and the proposal would be promulgated under the EC Act.
A company will be penalized if it is found violating the Code and as estimated, whereas the draft UCPMP has no provision for arresting a company’s chief executive for violations according to the draft.
A person, aware of the developments told Mint, “There are provisions of penalties only in lieu of confiscation of drugs of the company, found in violation of the proposed act.”
According to the EC Act, 1955, a government has powers to control production, supply, distribution, etc. of essential commodities for maintaining or increasing supplies and for securing their equitable distribution and availability at fair prices.
The draft, aimed at increasing transparency in financial relationships between healthcare providers and pharmaceutical manufacturers as well as deterring unethical practices, has been pending for more than two years.
According to the UCPMP, no gifts, pecuniary advantages or benefits in kind may be supplied, offered or promised to persons qualified to prescribe or supply drugs, by a pharmaceutical company or any of its agents i.e. distributors, wholesalers, retailers, etc.
Speaking to Mint a person from a pharma lobby group said, “It was left on the industry to implement it. However, the need for mandatory code with penal provisions was felt due to its poor compliance. The DoP thereafter decided to make it mandatory giving more teeth by adding penal provisions.”
D.G. Shah, Secretary General, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance while expressing the concern over DoP decision to bring UCPMP under Essential Commodities Act told Mint, “The proposed law should not be under the EC Act. EC Act is meant for essential commodities and here we are talking about services. There is no provision under the EC Act to cover services. This will unnecessarily force the industry to go to court and litigations will continue for a long time. If they want effective implementation it should come under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.”