Medica Superspecialty Hospital in Kolkata has announced a levy of charges on medical representatives visiting its facility. The hospital has restricted the visit of a medical representative to only one day a week against a charge of Rs 350/- for three hours. Beyond this, Rs 100 per hour will be levied. A hospital in Delhi is already doing this, charging Rs 5000 per month.
The decision was aimed at discouraging MRs from visiting the hospital. The plea given is that the hospital wants to promote generic drugs.
eMedinews does not agree with this. It’s like taking away the freedom of the doctors. The knowledge about drug updates, side effects and new drug interventions that the medical representative shares is important for doctors, especially when there is no Govt. system in place by which information about banned drugs, introduction of new drugs or introduction of new equipment reaches every doctor.
MCI ethics regulation 6.8 allows a doctor to associate with pharma industry, though with some riders as follows:
“g) Affiliation:- A medical practitioner may work for pharmaceutical and allied healthcare industries in advisory capacities, as consultants, as researchers, as treating doctors or in any other professional capacity. In doing so, a medical practitioner shall always:-
(i) Ensure that his professional integrity and freedom are maintained.
(ii) Ensure that patients interest are not compromised in any way.
(iii) Ensure that such affiliations are within the law.
(iv) Ensure that such affiliations/ employments are fully transparent and disclosed.”
The MCI Ethics code does not restrict an ethical interaction between a doctor and a medical representative. The MCI Ethics Code also does not restrict academic gifts, CDs, scientific updates from pharma representatives as long as the ‘per time’ cost is less than 1000/-. Regulation 6.8.1 a has defined punishment for Gifts more than Rs. 1,000/- up to Rs. 5,000/- as ‘censure’.