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Why Unified Code for Pharma Marketing Practices is difficult to implement

19 Mar 2024

The government implemented on March 12th a new code, UCPMP, to curb unethical practices in the pharma industry.

The Unified Code for Pharma Marketing Practices (UCPMP) prohibits pharmaceutical companies from bribing doctors with paid foreign trips and hospitality stays, personal gifts for them and family members, monetary gifts for doctors, agents or distributors, or any cash payments or grants for doctors and their family members.

It mandates that individual companies disclose any sponsorships for conferences and medical courses. However, there is no portal setup to report this.

Industry experts believe this Code will be less effective since it is non-statutory and not enforced by a regulatory authority. It is not a law, and players in the Indian pharmaceutical industry will easily beat around it to incentivise medical professionals.

Pharma associations need to form an ethics committee and create a portal linked to the pharma department, which will house an independent panel to audit such expenses. A code breach can lead to suspension of the entity from the association.

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