Pharma Firms Bribing Doctors with Women, Vouchers and Foreign Trips: 75 Doctors/ 40 Medical Representatives Confession

NEW DELHI: Pharmaceutical companies are wooing doctors to prescribe their drugs through innovative schemes such as providing credit and debit cards, Petro cards, e-vouchers for online purchases and even making available women for “entertainment”.

These are some of the findings that have emerged through a six-city study by conducting interviews with over 75 doctors and nearly 40 medical representatives by two activist doctors to reveal the pharma-doctor nexus.

Also, less than 20% of doctors follow the ethical codes prescribed by the Medical Council of India which also governs the profession that prohibits them from accepting bribes by drug companies. And doctors who are paid to bring business are even threatened and harassed if they fail to do so.

A 72-page report “Promotional Practices of the Pharmaceutical Industries and the Implementation Status of Related Regulatory Codes in India” by Dr. Arun Gadre and Dr. Archana Giwate, who are attached with a Pune-based health group Sathi, has also highlighted the government‘s kid-glove treatment in dealing with pharma companies.

Different strategies are used to promote drugs to categories of doctors — core doctors and secondary doctors in which core doctors are those who give business to the company.

The additional category includes specialists, doctors with a good reputation, opinion leaders.

“The doctors who set the prescription pattern in the field are looked after well,” said the report.

Apart from allopathic doctors, companies also influence AYUSH doctors.