Based on the value of gifts received from pharmaceutical companies, doctors will now be punished. Punishment
- The punishment will range from a censure for gifts of up to Rs 5,000 to deletion of the errant doctor’s name from the state or national medical register for a period of one year or more for freebies valued more than Rs 1 lakh.
- If the value of the freebies is between Rs 10,000 and Rs 50,000 the penalty would go up to six months, and for those priced Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh, the errant doctor’s name would remain struck off the register for a year.
- For free gifts amounting to more than Rs 1 lakh the period would be more than a year, subject to the discretion of the ethics committee. Repeat offenders under all slabs would be punished on a case to case basis, depending on the gravity of the offence.
- The Medical Council of India (MCI) is set to notify the new ethical guidelines under the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) (Amendment) Regulations, 2015.
- For the first time, these guidelines will define punishment for errant doctors based on the value of favours or freebies received from pharma companies.
- According to norms, a doctor cannot also endorse any medical product unless it is to present the results of an efficacy or other study done in an appropriate scientific body or journal.
Why such a step is taken?
- An alleged nexus between some pharmaceutical companies and unscrupulous doctors is widely recognised as one of the key reasons behind rising drug prices.
- Cost of the freebies to doctors are usually worked into the marketing cost of drugs. As a result, drugs priced higher containing the same molecules often tend to be the market leaders.