In a bid to give more teeth to Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practice (UCPMP), the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) is actively considering the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI)’s proposal to make a provision for setting up of a redressal council by pharmaceutical and medical device associations with authority to take away the license of the company violating UCPMP.
Dr P D Vaghela, secretary, DoP asked FICCI to make a detailed presentation on the redressal council.
As per the UCPMP code which has been voluntarily adopted by the pharmaceutical companies since 2015, associations can only suspend or expel the offender company from the association however, the company would continue to operate. The code provides for formation of two committees by pharma and medical device associations — Ethics Committee for Pharma Marketing Practices (ECPMY) for handling complaints related to UCPMP violation and Apex Ethics Committee for Pharmaceuticals Marketing Practices (AECPMP) to review the decisions of ECPMP.
Speaking at a meeting held by DoP to review the implementation of voluntary UCPMP on August 21, 2020, Shobha Mishra Ghosh, assistant secretary general, FICCI said “As per UCPMP code, associations can only do the naming and shaming and suspend or expel the offender company from the association however, the company would remain in market. There should be a redressal council in associations with the authority to take away the license of the company.”
She also inquired about the course of action if companies are members in several associations as well as coverage of the unorganized sector and small manufacturers under UCPMP, as they are not members of any association. Talking about implementation of UCPMP by FICCI, Praveen Mittal, director, FICCI said “The UCPMP code has been uploaded on our website and the committees have been identified and will be formed soon.” He raised a query regarding which associations to take action if the offender company is member of multiple associations.
Replying to him, Dr Vaghela said the associations can discuss this amongst themselves as to who would take the action. Even both the associations can take the action against the offender if required. The DoP secretary requested associations to provide reports on best practices if any, implemented by them for the effective implementation of UCPMP.
Sudharshan Jain, secretary general, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IP Alliance) told him that they have already set up the committee for implementation of UCPMP and in three-four weeks they would submit specific recommendations on it.
CII, AiMED, MTaI confirmed that they have uploaded UCPMP code on their website and formed committees. Said Rakhi Gupta, CII, they have uploaded UCPMP on their website and they have also taken up with their members to follow the code. Echoing her view, Chitranjan Biswal, AiMED stated that the code has been uploaded on their website and committees have been formed. Tanu Arora, MTaI mentioned that they have uploaded the UCPMP on their website and no complaints have been received. She requested permission for making a presentation on marketing code for medical devices.
K G Ananthakrishnan, director general, OPPI mentioned that OPPI follows its own marketing code which is more stringent under which ethics committees are also formed. He was advised to take necessary action under UCPMP and inform DoP at the earliest.
At the meet, Navdeep Rinwa, joint secretary, DoP requested all associations to upload UCPMP of their official website, form two committees of ECPMP and AECPMP, submit the list of its members to be uploaded the website of the association, mention the procedure of filing complaint on their website, send quarterly compliance report to NPPA and submit action taken on the complaints forwarded by DoP to the associations as well as a note on global best practices in UCPMP.
Shubhra Singh, NPPA chairperson also asked associations to submit a quarterly report on implementation of UCPMP to it. So far no association has submitted its report to NPPA, she stated.
According to the UCPMP, no gifts, pecuniary advantages or benefits in kind may be supplied, offered or promised to persons qualified to prescribe or supply drugs, by a pharmaceutical company or any of its agents i.e. distributors, wholesalers, retailers, etc.