Despite the Medical Council of India’s (MCI) December 2009 notification banning doctors and medical associations from accepting gifts, hospitality and travel from the pharmaceutical industry, little has changed on the ground.
Piramal Healthcare took 200 doctors from India to Istanbul for a diabetes conference between January 22 and 26. Dr Reddy’s Laboratories paid for the travel and hospitality of another 200 doctors in Hyderabad in January.
The industry claimed the doctors were participating in Continuous Medical Education (CME) programmes to update their knowledge. Medical experts wonder why doctors do not pay for their own training and education like everyone else.
“Yes, we did take the doctors to Turkey. It wasn’t for a holiday but to train them in treating severe complications of diabetes. A year ago, we’d decided to tie up with Joslin Diabetes Centre (USA) for training doctors, and we could not change the decision as we had already paid them. We want to follow rules but the MCI should give us time,” said Dr Swati Piramal, director, Piramal Healthcare.
In response to a mail from HT, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories claimed the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) has urged pharma firms to honour existing commitments to doctors till March 31. “We will do so and will, now and in future, do whatever is prudent for our key stakeholders,” said the statement.
OPPI president Ranjit Shahani, however, denied the OPPI had urged firms to violate the MCI code.