News Pharma Industry

Govt notifies new marketing code for pharma industry


The government notified a Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP), which prohibits companies from organising workshops abroad for healthcare professionals or offering them hotel stay, expensive cuisine or monetary grants, in a bid to control unethical practices in the pharma industry.

According to the code notified by the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) on Tuesday, no gifts for personal benefit should be offered to healthcare professionals or their family members. It also bans the supply of free samples to those who are not qualified to prescribe such a product.

While pharma companies have been following a code for marketing practices since 2015, that was purely voluntary. The new code is quasi-statutory.

“This means it strikes the right balance between cooperative and coercive compliance,” DoP secretary Arunish Chawla told ET.

A five-member committee headed by Vinod Paul had recommended the new code after reviewing the previous voluntary guidelines, which have not helped in effectively addressing concerns over the influence of offering gifts to medical professionals.

“We hope with the notification of this code, the pharma marketing practices will undergo an ethical transformation, and this will benefit patients, doctors and us as a nation and society at large,” Chawla said.The new code creates a mechanism of enforcement and oversight. Each of the pharma associations will have to create an ethics committee and a portal linked to the UCPMP portal of the pharma department.The department will have a panel of auditors who will do a risk-based audit of such expenditure.

If a breach of the code is established, the committee can propose to suspend or expel the entity from the association, according to the new code. They can also ask the entity to recover money or items given in violation of the code.


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