Pharma needs a dose of regulation

Source: The post is based on an article Pharma needs a dose of regulation” published in The Business Standard on 26th August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Government policies for various sectors

 Relevance: Regulating Pharma Companies

News: Pharmaceutical marketing requires regulations.

Bengaluru-based Micro Labs has been accused of tax evasion and paying doctors Rs 1,000 crore as bribe to prescribe Dolo-650 for Covid-19 patients.

The Supreme Court is currently hearing a plea to make the Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) a statutory requirement.

What is the need for Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP)?

The nexus between doctors and pharma companies is well-known. The most basic form of nexus consists of sending doctors and practitioners branded stationery, calendars, or desk knick-knacks. It keeps their products on top of the mind in a crowded market.

It is especially important in a market such as India, where many essential drugs are placed under price control.

However, the issue is a serious nexus. Where doctors are paid to fulfill the objectives of pharmaceuticals like fees to act as lead investigators on clinical trials or in endorsing key research papers.

Thus, a statutory code instead of voluntary code has been suggested, where, all pharma companies need to disclose payments made to doctors or their associations, directly or indirectly.

What are the concerns associated with Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP)?

The unusual Indian administrative problem of overlapping jurisdictions is also likely to hamper the effectiveness of a UCPMP.

There are also regulatory issues between the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, and the Ministry of Health that UCPMP should be brought under which department and ministry.

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