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Doctors wear black ribbons, protest against PM Modi’s pharma nexus remark

IMA members claim that while promoting generic medicines over the expensive branded medicines, the government is doing little to ensure stringent quality control

mumbai Updated: Apr 27, 2018 01:05 IST
Sadaguru Pandit
Sadaguru Pandit
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,doctors,Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accused Indian doctors of having a nexus with pharmaceutical companies for unethical rewards.(REPRESENTATIONAL IMAGE/SHUTTERSTOCK)

Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused Indian doctors of having a nexus with pharmaceutical companies for unethical rewards, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) hit back with claims that Modi’s Madison Square meeting was co-organised by a leading pharmaceutical company. Across India, over 3 lakh member doctors of the IMA responded to the PM’s remarks by wearing black ribbon around their arms.

Taking digs at the poorly managed Janaushadhi Scheme, IMA, Maharashtra members claimed that while promoting generic medicines over the expensive branded medicines, the government is doing little to ensure stringent quality control. “As per the union government’s data, six batches of generic medicines have been recalled for failing quality standards in the past three months. Moreover, the Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI), the government’s implementing agency for Janaushadhi scheme, has a headless quality control department,” said Dr Parthiv Sanghavi of the IMA.

He added that lack of authority in the department is directly affecting the efficacy of the medicines since there is nobody to check if the drugs are undergoing quality control, manufacturing, packaging, storing and supply standards.

Three of BPPI’s CEOs have resigned in the past three months, and currently, it is being run by an interim chief. “Despite all these issues, we have been promoting the idea of affordable generic medicines since the last four years. In fact, we have a Jan Aushadhi store at our Delhi headquarters, which in reality is a loss-making venture, but we are still accused of running a nexus,” said Dr Sanghavi.

The doctors added that they have been supporting the, ‘one company, one drug, one price’ initiative, which can make all medicines affordable for even the lowest economic strata of society, but the government has ignored them. “There are pharmaceutical companies which make both generic and branded drugs from the same component but charge different rates. We asked the government to cap all the drug schedules because even the poorest of poor should have access to medicines,” said another IMA member.

All the IMA members said that they spent the day wearing black ribbons and when questioned about it by patients, they told them about the PM’s comment.

First Published: Apr 27, 2018 01:05 IST