Pharmaceutical companies prepare to comply with ethical marketing code

Pharmaceutical (pharma) bodies have welcomed the government’s move to request chief executive officers (CEOs) of all pharma companies submit, by June 30, an undertaking citing compliance with the newly notified code against unethical marketing.
The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), in a circular dated May 28, said that the self-declaration form is applicable for 2024–25 (FY25) under the Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) 2024. The form will be circulated among pharma companies for ‘strict compliance’.
Describing the move as necessary to ensure accountability in implementing the code, Sudarshan Jain, secretary-general of the Indian Pharmaceutical Association, which represents the leading drug firms in the country, said that requiring the company’s executive head to submit a ‘self-declaration’ for FY25 would ensure accountability at the highest level.
The UCPMP aims to curb the unethical marketing of drugs and ban medical representatives from using inducements to access healthcare professionals.
While the industry had been following a voluntary code to curb unethical practices since 2015, the DoP notified the UCPMP in March 2024, making these guidelines quasi-statutory in nature.
Anil Matai, director-general of the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India, which represents multinational pharma companies working in India, said that pharma companies had been diligently preparing to align with this ethical code since its issuance in March this year.
“This proactive approach underscores our industry’s commitment to maintaining high standards of conduct and safeguarding public trust,” he added.
The code also requires pharma associations to form five-member ethics committees to oversee the implementation of the new code.
These committees would have the power to check allegations of breaches of the code by its member companies and pronounce penalties ranging from suspension to expulsion of the company from the association if a breach is established.
Speaking on the preparations made by the pharma associations to implement the code, a senior official at the Indian Drug Manufacturers Association, which represents small and medium-sized pharma companies, said that the association has completed work on forming the ethics committee.
“We may also seek professional help from external agencies to ensure the implementation of the code, if needed,” the official said.

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