New Delhi, Feb 26: Seeking to ban the illegal practice of pharma companies trying to influence doctors and chemists through expensive "gifts", the government is set to impose a ceiling of Rs 1,000 on the value of such giveaways. The government is also considering a blanket ban on expensive freebies such as cruise or vacation tickets and sponsored educational conferences and seminars that can be means of making payments and offering benefits.
According to a report in the 'Times of India', The Rs 1,000 cap is considered sufficient for drug manufacturers to offer items intended to ensure brand recall. The department of pharmaceuticals (DoP) is in the final stages of issuing an executive order making Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) mandatory for the drug manufacturing industry. The order will cover doctors, chemists and hospitals and the states.
The health ministry and Medical Council of India have been consulted on the decision. Once the executive order is issued by DoP, the code will be binding on all the stakeholders and any violation of the norms will attract punishment and penalty. "It can vary from a warning to cancellation of licence depending upon the extent of violation," the official said.
The proposal also includes suggestions to form an ethical committee which will investigate and take decisions if there are complaints of violation. "The proposal for the order is with the health minister and will be announced any time soon," a senior official told TOI. At present, the marketing code is "voluntary" and the industry is expected to "self regulate" by adopting it. However, official sources said there are rampant violations of the code and the government felt the need for "stringent" norms to monitor unethical practices.