The much touted Jan Aushadhi scheme has completely failed to survive and the ‘fair-price’ shops which have mushroomed in and around hospitals in Jammu and Kashmir have not shrugged from fleecing customers. The very promise of affordable medicare has remained far away from the needy despite all the promises made by the government. The frequent holding of medical camps seen everyday especially the free camps where medical checkups and distribution of medicines are free though looks very attractive on the social front but on the economic side it is to get the prescriptions from doctors for the pharma companies. The Medical Council of India (MCI) has termed the practice as unauthorised and that only a registered medical practitioner can perform screening and diagnostic tests. Accordingly the ‘free health camps’ held near slums or temples or even in middle class colonies, in which doctors participate in the name of doing “a little bit of charity” along with getting more patients, is being also done even in doctors’ clinics. In these camps and clinics, it has been found that the medicines being prescribed were mostly of the company whose representatives were doing the tests. At the beginning of 2015, all drug companies doing business in India, foreign and indigenous, had claimed that a voluntary code of practice for ethical marketing of their products, the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices, would be introduced and medical practioners would follow in letter and spirit. A wishful thinking which has not been seen implemented at ground level. There is clear violation of ‘ethical’ marketing. Boosting drug sales through screening programmes that look like charity is common practice in India. Not only does it creates new customers and capture market share, but it allows companies to influence prescription trends despite regulations that prohibit doctors from accepting gifts from drug companies. Some of the pharma majors resort to such ‘social responsibility’ camps to grab market share for its products. Last year, India had made Corporate Social Responsibility mandatory for large companies but again it has not taken off in true spirit of business.
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