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HomeCentral GovernmentGovernment appointed UCPMP panel submits its final report

Government appointed UCPMP panel submits its final report

“Falls short of mandating Uniform code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP)”

New Delhi: The Centre constituted five-member panel in 2022 headed by by Dr V.K. Paul, Niti Aayog’s member (Health) to review the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) in India following a notice from the Supreme Court has submitted its detail report to the government. The other members of the panel included the Secretaries of Health and Pharma departments and officials from the Central Board of Direct Taxes and Department of Personnel. The panel recommended that the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) should not be made mandatory but will remain voluntary though measures will be taken to strengthen it.

The high level government panel has recommended that the pharmaceutical companies should disclose the money they spend per doctor in a conference. On the issue of gifts of any nature to RMPs from pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies the panel has recommended that gifting to doctors of any nature should not be allowed. Though the panel has permitted pharma companies to give brand reminders and free samples to doctors. Again the panel has put a bar on the amount on the value of brand reminders to doctors. The value of brand reminders, however, should not be more than Rs 1,000 per item and it should be transparently disclosed through labelling. Also, brand reminders to medical practitioners should be treated as income for medical practitioners. The panel recommended that as and when the cumulative value in a financial year of these brand reminders exceeds Rs.20,000 of a doctor, TDS would be deducted by the pharma company. There is no mention of brand reminders in the existing UCPMP even though companies are allowed to offer free samples to doctors.

On the issue of continuing medical education (CME) by pharma companies, the panel has suggested engagement of pharma industry with doctors may be allowed both directly and indirectly through a well-defined, transparent, verifiable set of guidelines but barred the pharma from conducting these programmes in foreign locations. The panel further suggested that trusts or associations of pharmaceutical companies including those in association with professional bodies and educational or research institutes may organise such conferences, but the organiser will explicitly spell out the procedure followed in the selection of speakers and participants. The panel recommended independent audits of CMEs/CPD and wants UCPMP to work out guidance on expenditure by pharma companies permissible per doctor. To infuse transparency the panel added that pharmaceutical companies will need to share the relevant details including the expenditure incurred on their website or on a common website set up by industry associations or government for this purpose.

On the issue of research, the panel said that expenditure on research by the pharmaceutical companies is allowable expenditure subject to the provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961. But amounts received by the doctors in the course of permissible research activity from pharma companies will be treated as income in the hands of the doctor and taxable under relevant provisions of the income tax act. The panel has further suggested that the DoP put in place a common portal for reporting and disclosure by industry associations in respect of implementation of UCPMP in order to facilitate monitoring of effective implementation. It has also said that ECPMP should be encouraged to engage the services of professional auditors to facilitate better and independent examination of complaints “for arriving at a more informed decision”.

(Input Credit – The Wire)

Highlights of recommendation of the Government appointed UCPMP panelUCPMP to remain voluntary and not mandatoryNo freebies of any nature from pharma & medical device companies to doctorsBrand reminder to doctors to the tune of Rs.1000 per item permittedIf the cumulative value of brand reminder to a doctor exceeds Rs.20000 in a financial year than the pharma company should deduct TDS Free medicine samples to doctors permittedCME permitted but CME in foreign country barredIndependent audit of CME/CPD to be done Pharma companies to share the complete detail of expenditure on websiteResearch grants to doctors by pharma will be held as income to the doctors and the doctors have to include the grants in their income and pay Income tax as applicable