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Code to Check Unethical Drug Practices

Why is it in the news?

  • The Union government introduces a code to promote pharmaceutical products while combating unethical practices within the sector.


Uniform Code for Pharmaceuticals Marketing Practices (UCPMP) 2024

  • Ensures that drugs are only promoted after obtaining marketing approval, preventing the dissemination of misleading information.
  • Mandates that terms like ‘safe’ must be used with appropriate qualifications, preventing the exaggeration of drug efficacy.
  • Limits the distribution of free drug samples to qualified healthcare professionals, preventing indiscriminate distribution and potential misuse.
  • Prohibits healthcare professionals from accepting gifts or benefits from pharmaceutical companies except for educational purposes, reducing the influence of financial incentives on prescribing behaviour.
  • Restricts the use of brand names of products from other companies in promotional material without prior consent, ensuring fair competition and preventing misleading comparisons.
  • Sets a value limit on informational and educational materials provided by pharmaceutical companies, preventing excessive influence through lavish gifts.
  • Mandates the establishment of Ethics Committees for Pharma Marketing Practices to handle complaints and ensure adherence to ethical standards.


Pharma-Doctor Nexus

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Highlights the longstanding practice of pharmaceutical companies offering gifts, cash, or other benefits to medical professionals in exchange for prescribing their products.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Acknowledges judicial recognition of the issue, with cases like the ‘Dolo’ antipyretic drug emphasizing the seriousness of excessive spending on marketing.



Challenges Associated with the Pharma-Doctor Nexus

  • Raises concerns about the potential conflict of interest when doctors receive benefits for prescribing specific drugs, potentially compromising patient care.
  • Highlights the risk of eroding patient trust if they perceive their doctors’ decisions to be influenced by pharmaceutical companies rather than solely based on medical need.
  • Discusses the potential economic implications of prescribing more expensive medications due to ties with pharmaceutical companies, potentially leading to increased healthcare costs.
  • Emphasizes the importance of upholding professional ethics and integrity, with acceptance of gifts potentially being viewed as a breach of these standards.
  • Points out the legal and professional consequences associated with violating guidelines set by regulatory bodies like the Medical Council of India (MCI).
  • Considers the broader impact on the public’s perception of the healthcare profession, which may suffer if a cozy relationship between doctors and pharmaceutical companies is perceived.

Measure taken by the Government

  • MCI Guidelines: Discusses guidelines issued by the Medical Council of India (MCI) aimed at maintaining professional independence and integrity among medical practitioners, particularly regarding gifts and benefits.
  • NPPA Oversight: Highlights the role of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) in regulating drug prices and ensuring fair trade practices within the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Collaboration with Professional Bodies: Indicates collaboration with professional medical associations and bodies to develop and implement ethical guidelines addressing concerns related to interactions between doctors and pharmaceutical companies.
Indian Pharmaceutical Industry

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 The Indian pharmaceutical industry ranks as the third-largest globally by volume, indicating its substantial production capacity and market presence.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Currently valued at around USD 50 billion, the Indian pharmaceutical market demonstrates significant economic importance and growth potential.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 India leads as the world’s largest exporter of generic drugs, with pharmaceutical exports surpassing 25 billion U.S. dollars in the fiscal year 2023, highlighting its global competitiveness.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Projections from the Indian Economic Survey 2021 anticipate substantial expansion, with the pharmaceutical industry expected to reach a market size of USD 120-130 billion by 2030, signalling promising growth prospects.


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