Unholy nexus between pharma and doctors

Unholy Nexus Between Doctors, Pharmaceutical Companies, Chemists And Pathological Clinics. Is there a way out?

The Space Has Been Getting Murkier With Each Passing Day As Companies Struggle To Be Ahead In The Prescriptions Race While Doctors, Ever Pampered With Goodies, Extend Their Greed By The Hour.

To A Gathering Of Top Indian Drug Companies, Including A Few Honchos From Multinational Companies, Recently, Two Of The Topmost Indian Drug Regulators — The Chairman Of National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority And The Secretary To The Newly Carved Out Department Of Pharmaceuticals — Urged Restraint.
The Expensive Goodies (Read Bribes) Given To Doctors Add Up To The Overall Costs Of The Drug And Make It Unaffordable To The Masses. Besides, What Started As A ” Token Of Appreciation” To Specialists From Drug Companies Has Snowballed Into A Major Cost Centre For Those Very Companies, Hasn’t It?
Most Likely, Companies Will Pay No Heed To The Cautionary Notes And The Practice Of Tempting Doctors With Gifts Than Quality Drugs Will Continue Unabated.
While In Earlier Days, Doctors Were Far Less Direct Or Unwilling In Accepting Those So-Called Gifts, The Practice Has Come Full Circle And Reached A Stage Where The Number Of Prescriptions Generated Are Duly Rewarded By Way Of Foreign Travel Not Just For Doctors But Also Their Families.
To Those Who Attend Scientific Conferences Abroad With A Serious Intent, This Practice Is Becoming A Joke.
The Carelessness Of Drug Companies In Determining The Seriousness Of Such Conferences Could Be Gauged Easily As Cries Of Babies Are Heard In The Midst Of Scientific Presentations In Halls Packed With Researchers From Every Big University And Companies Of Repute In The World.
Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association, A Group Of Indian Companies, Has Reacted And Expressed Its Desire To Discipline Companies. One Of Its Admittance To A Government Official Reads Like This: ” We Fully Agree With You Regarding Avoiding Ostensible Display During Conferences, Seminars, Etc. In Fact, Our Code Of Conduct Clearly Recommends That All Conferences And Seminars Should Be Informative And Training-Centric And Other Paraphernalia Such As Gifts, Entertainment, Etc Should Be Secondary And Bare Minimum.” Idealistic Proclamation, But Will This Ever Be Followed?
Not That Indian Companies Like Gifting Doctors. As Everyone Knows In The Industry, This Practice Is Borne More Out Of Compulsion Than Any Kind Of Affection Or Appreciation To The Doctor Fraternity.
In The Enormously Fragmented Indian Drug Industry, The Wild Chase Is For A Select Number Of Drugs That Fetch High Revenues To Companies. Doctors Are The Last Stop For Such Companies. As Medical Representatives {Does Not Know In Details About The Drugs And Related Issues} Are Pressured By Subsequent Superiors {Does Not Know In Details About The Drugs And Related Issues} In Various Level For Reaching Monthly Targets, Doctors Make Hay.
In My Several Conversations With The Field Staff Of Various Companies, The Common Refrain Is, ” We Are Helpless As The Entire Industry Practices The Same Rule (Of Enticing Doctors By Gifting Or Arranging For A Fully Paid Foreign Travel), We Cannot Operate In An Island And Lose Our Market Share.”
Therefore, There Is No Easy Solution And Putting Strictures Only On Drug Companies Will Not Help. The Indian Medical Association Should Step In As Well And Devise Rules That Seek To Break This Vicious Cycle.
As For Drug Companies, Paying Off Doctors Will Only Burn A Big Hole In Their Profits.
Some Companies Go To The Ridiculous Extent Of Offering College Expenses For Doctor’s Kids As Well. There Can’t Be A Bigger Bribery Than This And Being Associated With A Practice As Noble As That Of A Doctor, It Only Affirms Their Shamelessness In Accepting These Special Treatment.
This Brazen Conduct Has To Stop And When It Does, Companies, Doctors And Most Importantly, The Patients Will Benefit.
A Significant Percentage Of Our Patients Coming For Medical Treatment Have To Pay For The Cost Of Their Drugs, As Out Of Pocket Expenditure, Since They Do Not Carry Any Medical Insurance Cover, Whether Private Or State.
Therefore, An Important Question That Arises Is Whether Patients Are Receiving Adequate Information From Their Treating Doctor Regarding The Prices Of The Various Brands Of Drugs That Are Available In The Market In Context With The Drug Prescribed To Them.
The Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette And Ethics) Regulations, 2002 States That Every Physician Should, As Far As Possible, Prescribe Drugs With Generic Names And He/ She Shall Ensure That There Is A Rational Prescription And Use Of Drugs.

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