Unethical Pharmaceutical Marketing in India

The Medical Council of India is planning an extensive awareness program after issuing an Amendment Notification on December 10, 2009. The amendment is titled, “Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) (Amendment) Regulations, 2009 — Part I.”

The main purpose of this regulation is to prevent pharmaceutical companies from giving gifts to medical practitioners. In addition, a medical practitioner is not allowed to accept any paid travel from any pharmaceutical or allied healthcare industry to attend conferences, seminars, workshops, etc. as a delegate. Hotel accommodations should also not be accepted individually by the medical practitioner. Cash or monetary grants from any pharmaceutical and allied healthcare industry for individual purpose will also be prohibited.

Medical practitioners are also not allowed to publically endorse any drug or product of the industry. Any study conducted on the efficacy of the product needs to be presented to the appropriate scientific bodies or published in appropriate scientific journals in the proper way.

With this new code of ethics for Indian doctors, the MCI has received many inquiries on what constitutes a gift. At this point, they have mentioned that while items such as a pen, calendar, diary, or wallet can be accepted, these items would be considered a bribe if they cost more than 1,000 Indian rupees (about $22).