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DoP to introduce UCPMP under Essential Commodities Act to ensure 100% compliance by pharma cos

Laxmi Yadav, Mumbai
Thursday, September 7, 2017, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) will soon introduce Uniform Code for Pharma Marketing Practices (UCPMP) under Essential Commodities (EC) Act to make it more deterrent, thereby yielding pharma industry's compliance with the code which has been optional so far.

Introduced by DoP in 2015, implementation of UCPMP has been voluntary so far and lacks penal provisions to deter wrongdoers. Taking advantage of this, a number of companies have not adhered to the marketing code. In a bid to ensure industry's cent percent compliance with UCPMP, the DoP had decided to make it mandatory with more teeth and penal provisions which received encouraging response from the captains of pharma industry.

Following industry's feedback, the DoP had started working on revised draft of UCPMP under the ambit of EC Act. The draft involves CEO penalties and penal provisions as per EC Act. As per the draft, one official will be deployed to monitor violation of UCPMP.

As per 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. Gifts for the personal benefit of healthcare professionals and family members (both immediate and extended) (such as tickets to entertainment events) also are not to be offered or provided.

The draft was sent to the law ministry for vetting by the DoP.

The law ministry expressed reservations over certain provisions of the revised draft of UCPMP such as arrest of CEO of a drug company which is found to be violating the marketing code following a complaint by NPPA. The ministry observed that the said provision has transgressed the mandate of EC Act and suggested modification of the provision to make it compatible with the Act.

“We are working to overcome the hurdles pointed out by the ministry. The revised code which is in making will be a good deterrent. Our aim is to provide a level playing field for small and large firms. As of now, only big companies are complying with UCPMP,” said Sudhansh Pant, joint secretary of DoP.

Expressing concern over DoP decision to bring UCPMP under EC Act, DG Shah, Secretary General, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance said “The government should bring UCPMP under Drugs and Cosmetics Act instead of EC Act administered by DoP. EC Act is a draconian act, next to narcotics act which hardly offers hearing opportunity to concerned persons before arrest. There is no provision for condonation in EC Act.”

We have made certain suggestions to the DoP focusing on creating conducive environment for industry's compliance with the code rather than creating fear psychosis which will not work. Action should be taken against marketing head of the company violating the code instead of CEO of the company, he said.

Besides this, deployment of one official to look into violation of UCPMP is inadequate arrangement and may lead to arbitrariness. A panel of certain members should be appointed for the same. There should be a collective opinion to take a call on culprits. Appellate mechanism should be strengthened, he added.

Citing Physician Payments Sunshine Act in United States which was implemented in 2010 to increase transparency of financial relationships between health care providers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, Shah said that UCPMP should have provisions laying down in Sunshine Act to bring in transparency in relationships between the companies and doctors. The compliance should be created in a manner which discourages people to do certain things, he concluded.


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Vipin Garg Sep 8, 2017 9:40 AM
recently Alembic Pharma along with several other companies were caught red handed in bribery case in Banglore where they had given bribe to a doctor to procure purchase orders for their products in Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.The case is in CBI court. The name of owners of the company has been removed from the chargesheet. The mockery of the system. What is the outcome of involving so many departments, no body is serious.
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