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DoP issues letter to pharma associations to ensure adherence to UCPMP

The department has received a complaint alleging that pharma companies are sponsoring a national level event

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The Department of Pharmaceutical (DoP) has issued a letter to the pharma industry’s key associations, namely; IDMA, BDMA, IPA, OPPI and FOPE requesting them to ensure that their member companies adhere with the provisions of the Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP).

The DoP has communicated that the department has received a complaint alleging that the Annual National Conference of Indian Psychotropic Society, which is going to be held in January 2021, is being sponsored by pharma companies which amount to a few crores of rupees.

“In this connection, as per the provision 7.1of UCPMP, pharma company or their associations/representatives or any person acting on their behalf shall not extend any travel facility inside the country or outside, including rail, air, ship, cruise, tickets, paid vacation etc., to healthcare professionals and their family members for vacation or for attending the conference, seminar, workshop, CME programme etc. as a delegate. In any seminar, conference or meeting organised by a pharma company for promoting a drug or disseminating information, if a medical practitioner participates as a delegate, it will be on his/her own cost. Further, as provision 7.2 of UCPMP, companies or their associations/ representatives shall not extend any hospitality like hotel accommodation to healthcare practitioners and their family members under any pretext,” stated the DoP letter.

However, the code of UCPMP, prepared by the Department of Pharmaceuticals in 2014 as a code of marketing practices for the Indian pharma industry, remains a voluntary exercise to be adopted by pharma companies. Industry experts have been urging government bodies that it should be made mandatory without further delay. But, recently the Minister of Chemical and Fertilizer, D V Sadananda Gowda informed in the Rajyasabha that the UCPMP is voluntary in nature and the Government has not yet decided to make it mandatory. The minister’s statement received a huge reaction from the pharma and healthcare fraternity, as the law punishes medical practitioners from receiving freebies, but since UCPMP is not a law in the country, it refrains from punishing pharma companies.

Commenting on the DoP’s letter, Mahesh Doshi, President, Indian Drugs Manufacturers Association (IDMA) said, “A few days back, in our executive committee member meeting, we deliberated about the DoP’s raised concerns related to UCPMP. So far we have no complaint against our member companies, still, to examine the subject, we have instructed the respective committees within the association to study the matter.”

He added, “Although we have already communicated to our member companies to strictly adhere to the code of UCPMP, we will certainly recheck with our members.”

Subhas Malhotra, President, FOPE, said, “We have not received any complaint about our member companies about violating the rule of UCPMP. However, we advise all our members to follow the provision of UCPMP.”

The official event website of the Annual National Conference of Indian Psychotropic Society does not provide any information about pharma companies being event partners/sponsors.

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