Doctors found accepting gifts, travel, hospitality or money from pharmaceutical companies risk being banned from practicing medicine for one year or more, besides being fined Rs 1 lakh or more.
Faced with widespread protests from doctors and the pharmaceutical industry, the Medical Council of India (MCI) — India’s apex body controlling medical education and practice — has further clarified amendments made to the Medical Ethics Regulations in December. And in doing so, it has made punishment stringent.
The MCI has proposed punishment based on the value of gift or favour accepted. “India is the first country in the world to categorise punishment provisions depending on the magnitude of the transgression.
While gifts valued above Rs 1,000 but below Rs 5,000 will draw censure, those over Rs 1 lakh will result in the doctor’s name being struck off the Indian Medical Register or State Medical Register for more than one year,” said Dr Ketan Desai, president, MCI.
The proposals were sent to the health ministry on Friday for approval and are likely to be accepted without changes.
“Pharma and companies selling medical devices are luring doctors to push their products. This law, if implemented, will be serve as a deterrent,” said Dr Naresh Trehan, chairman, Medanta, the Medicity.
The travel ban includes sponsored travel to attend conferences, workshops or continuing medical education programmes as a delegate. While doctors can work as consultants, researchers and treating doctors with pharma companies, they can’t endorse any drug or product of the industry publicly.
Breaking the law will result in censure for the first offence, and getting the medical licence revoked for subsequent ones.