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Laxmi Yadav, Mumbai September 29 , 2022
Drug manufacturers have expressed hope that a high-level committee formed by the government to review their marketing practices will suggest ways to fill the gap in the lack of specific regulation in India that governs how businesses can advertise and market their products to healthcare professionals (HCPs).

“Currently, India lacks specific regulation governing the ways drug makers can advertise and market their products to medical professionals. The promotion of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment to consumers is, however, strictly controlled. In most cases, marketing refers to the process of getting goods and services from the manufacturer to the end-user. For the pharmaceutical industry, however, it’s a little more nuanced and complicated. Instead, think of pharmaceutical marketing as a well-organized information system. It's all about access, availability, effectiveness, and efficacy of specific drugs for doctors. For patients, the information system aims to provide an understanding of the benefits - risks, or side effects of consuming medicines,” said Raheel Shah- director at BDR Pharmaceuticals.
 
“I think every step taken by the government of India is taken for the benefit of both pharma companies as well as society. Consumers take medication on the assumption that it has been approved by the government and that it would help them recover. Therefore, gaining the public's trust is crucial for the government to serve in the interests of the nation,” said Shah.

A memorandum issued on September 12, 2022 cited that the department of pharmaceuticals has also put in place a code of ethics, Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP), for pharma companies, which has been in effect since January 1, 2015 and has been adopted by all the major pharmaceutical associations to provide advice to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. Currently, these guidelines are voluntary and do not have legal force.
 
The code provides for the procedure of filing complaints, inquiry by the Apex Committees of the Associations, penal actions, etc to be taken by the pharma association of which the company is a member effective in public confidence within the government and pharma companies and unquestionably contribute to the halting of unethical behaviour.
 
The five-member panel at NITI Aayog will examine issues linked to the requirement of legally enforceable mechanisms for regulating marketing practices of pharma companies taking into consideration the study of global practices, said director, BDR Pharmaceuticals.
 
We hope that the panel will come out with suggestions filling the gap in the lack of particular law in the country regulating the practices businesses can adopt to advertise and market their products to doctors, he stated.
 
Headed by VK Paul, member (health), NITI Aayog, the five-member committee set up by the government on September 12, 2022 will submit its recommendation to Mansukh Mandaviya, Union minister of health and family welfare and chemicals and fertilizers in three-month on harmonization of various rules regulating marketing practices of drug companies as well as making marketing practice codes legally enforceable to curb malpractices by pharma companies.

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