Ethical Standards in Pharmaceutical Marketing: UCPMP 2024

Image of the document titled 'Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) 2024' illustrating the ethical standards in pharmaceutical marketing
Ethical Standards in Pharmaceutical Marketing: UCPMP 2024

The Department of Pharmaceuticals has recently introduced the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) 2024, marking a crucial milestone in regulating the conduct of pharmaceutical companies. This code, effective as of March 12, 2024, is designed to combat unethical marketing practices within the industry, particularly those aimed at influencing healthcare professionals.

Key Provisions:

  • Prohibited Benefits: Under the UCPMP 2024, pharmaceutical companies and their agents are expressly prohibited from offering personal benefits to healthcare professionals or their family members. This includes gifts, travel facilities, hospitality, cash, or any other form of pecuniary advantage.
  • Hospitality Restrictions: Hospitality offerings such as hotel stays, expensive dining, or resort accommodations are strictly limited, except in cases where healthcare professionals are engaged as speakers at conferences, seminars, or workshops.
  • Free Samples: The code emphasizes that free drug samples should only be provided to qualified individuals authorized to prescribe such products. Detailed records of sample distribution must be maintained.
  • Monetary Limit on Samples: Companies are required to adhere to a monetary limit, ensuring that the value of samples distributed does not exceed 2% of their domestic sales per year.
  • Consistent Promotion: Marketing activities must align with the terms of regulatory approval and should not precede such approval.
  • Balanced Information: Information about drugs must be accurate, up-to-date, verifiable, and devoid of misleading content. It should reflect current knowledge or responsible opinion, backed by substantiated evidence.
  • Ethical Conduct of Medical Representatives: Medical representatives are obligated to uphold ethical standards in their interactions and refrain from using inducements or deceptive tactics to gain access to healthcare professionals.
Enforcement and Penal Provisions:

  • Ethics Committee for Pharma Marketing Practices (ECPMP): Each pharmaceutical association is mandated to establish an ECPMP to address complaints of code violations. The committee, headed by the association's CEO and comprising three to five members, ensures accountability and transparency.
  • Self-Declaration by CEO: CEOs of pharmaceutical companies must submit annual self-declarations regarding compliance with the UCPMP, which are published on association websites or the Department of Pharmaceuticals' portal.
  • Breach of Code: Violations may result in suspension, expulsion, or reprimand, with details of such actions made public to uphold transparency.
  • Corrective Measures: Entities found in breach of the code must issue corrective statements through appropriate media channels, subject to committee approval.
  • Recovery of Money or Items: Efforts to recover unlawfully provided benefits must be documented and reported to the committee.
  • Recommendations to Government Agencies: The ECPMP may recommend disciplinary or remedial actions to relevant government agencies through the Department of Pharmaceuticals.

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