Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP)

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    In News

    • The Central Board for Direct Taxes (CBDT) has accused the makers of the Dolo-650 tablet of spending Rs 1,000 crore to distribute freebies to doctors for prescribing the medicine.

    About

    • Background:
      • The controversy took place following the income-tax raids on Bengaluru-based drugmaker Micro Labs, makers of popular paracetamol brand Dolo-650. 
    • Issue: 
      • Gift-giving in the form of free dinners and drug samples to promotional merchandise – seems to be driving drugmakers’ marketing – a marketing prescription deeply entrenched in the industry. 
    • Case in Supreme Court: 
      • The Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking direction to the Centre to give UCPMP a statutory basis – and make it effective, transparent, and accountable.
    • Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP):
      • Marketing practices of pharma companies are guided by Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) since 2015, a voluntary code, enforced by pharma associations/Companies.
      • At present, the UCPMP Code is applicable to Pharmaceutical Companies, Medical Representatives, Agents of Pharmaceutical Companies such as Distributors, Wholesalers, Retailers, and Pharmaceutical Manufacturer’s Associations.

     

    Unethical Practices in Pharma Marketing

    • Drug firms offer freebies in cash and kind to physicians to incentivise them to prescribe ‘their drugs’.
    • Helping doctors in reputation-building exercises by helping in articles publication, speaking at conferences etc.
    • Making doctors lead investigators in clinical trials or as committee members for which they are paid heavily.
    • The global experience also shows that voluntary code does not work.

    Way Ahead

    • The UCPMP should be converted into Law, as code for ethical marketing has not proved to be effective enough.
    • Ethical marketing and promotion should be brought within the ambit of the new Drugs, Medical Devices, and Cosmetics Act being formulated.
    • The government should mandate periodic disclosures of payments made by companies towards doctors and professional bodies, directly or indirectly via other parties, which should be accessible to the public. 
    • These disclosures should be made at intervals and put in the public domain.
    • The disclosures should include the amount, purpose of expenditure, and the party paid.

    Source: BS