UCPMP code: Centre to meet pharma associations over concerns

  • Since the implementation of the new code, pharma associations have been expressing concerns over enforcing the new guidelines.

Somrita Ghosh
First Published29 Mar 2024
The new code also states that companies are going to be accountable for the activities of their medical representatives.
The new code also states that companies are going to be accountable for the activities of their medical representatives.(Bloomberg)

New Delhi: The Department of Pharmaceuticals will convene a meeting with all pharmaceutical associations next week to address all concerns regarding the new Uniform Code for Pharmaceuticals Marketing Practices (UCPMP), introduced earlier this month.

Since the implementation of the UCPMP, pharma associations have been expressing concerns over the enforcement of the guidelines.

As part of its efforts to combat unethical pharmaceutical marketing practices, the central government introduced a new uniform code, covering aspects such as drug endorsement, promotion, ethical conduct for medical representatives, and on maintaining relationship with healthcare professionals.

Additionally, the department had also directed pharmaceutical associations to establish three- or five-member ethics committees to oversee marketing practices, and disclose details of all complaints, including the name of the company under scanner, to address grievances.

The department of pharmaceuticals have sent out an email to the associations asking them to participate in the meeting.

"It is a good step but we need more clarity. Dates for when the new codes come into effect have not been mentioned. Things cannot be suddenly changed or put on halt. Also, many rules are not very clear. Therefore, the meeting is important for pharma companies," said a top pharma association member.

According to the UCPMP, medical representatives should not pay, under any guise, to get access to healthcare professionals, and companies will be held accountable for the activities of the medical representatives. 

The code also bars healthcare experts from accepting gifts from any pharma company, or agent, or enjoy paid vacations within or outside the country, or for attending conferences, seminars or workshops, unless he is a speaker at a Continuing Medical Education (CME) or Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme.

While pharma companies have been following a code for marketing practices since 2015, that was purely voluntary, the new code is quasi-statutory.

The code also states that all the pharma associations will upload the new guidelines on their website along with detailed procedures for lodging complaints, which will be linked to the UCPMP portal.

The Ethics Committee for Pharma Marketing Practices of each association, comprising three to five members, will be responsible for handling complaints. They will share details of received complaints, including the nature of the complaint, the company accused, and the status of the complaint, according to the new guidelines.

An email query sent to the Department of Pharmaceutical seeking response remained unanswered till press time.

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