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Pharma Dept Unveils Code for Marketing Practices

The Department of Pharmaceuticals has unveiled a uniform code for pharmaceutical marketing practices, which states that marketing approval has to be in place before a drug is promoted.

As per the new code, claims regarding a drug’s usefulness must be backed by evidence. The provisions of the code have to be adhered to while using the words “safe” or “new”. Additionally, certain factors have to be considered while making comparisons between drugs, and if a comparison is being made with products of another company, the consent of such company must be taken.

Notably, the code prohibits the use of names or photographs of healthcare professionals in promotional materials. If the promotional material is intended to “provide persons qualified to prescribe with sufficient information upon which to reach a decision for prescription or for use”, it must be accompanied by relevant details such as the method of use, recommended dosage, adverse reactions, etc.

The sales representatives and other company representatives should not resort to deception and must maintain a high ethical standard. It is envisaged that a clause be incorporated in the employment contract between the company and such representatives to ensure due compliance with the code. Further, a self-declaration asserting compliance with the code, in the prescribed format, has to be submitted by the company’s executive head within two months of the end of every financial year.

The code also elaborates on the permitted brand reminders, bar against offering gifts, travel facilities, and so on, to healthcare professionals, requirements to be fulfilled in case of collaborations between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals for research purposes, etc.

In case of any non-compliance with the provisions of the code, a complaint can be filed before the Ethics Committee which will be set up by each of the pharmaceutical associations. A decision regarding the complaint has to be made within 90 days. An appeal against this decision will lie before the Apex Committee.

Date: March 13, 2024