Blaming Pharmaceutical Companies for Corrupting Doctors: PIL | India News

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday sought the Center’s opinion on a PIL to make pharmaceutical companies criminally liable for bribing doctors through gifts worth more than Rs 4,000 crore each year for their drugs are over-prescribed, which has a negative impact on public health.
A bench of Judges DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant issued an opinion to the Union Government on the PIL filed by the Federation of Medical and Commercial Representatives of India, which alleged that the shower of gifts on doctors incited them to prescribe powerful and overpriced drugs leading to lowering of patients’ inherent immune system and future complications.
Appearing for the petitioner, lead solicitor Sanjay Parikh said a prime example was the thoughtless prescribing of expensive injections of Remdesivir for Covid patients during the pandemic, even when its effectiveness against coronavirus was not scientifically proven. proven. Such a practice violates the general public’s right to life and health, he said.
Parikh said that currently only doctors are criminally liable for receiving bribes instead of prescribing a particular drug, although the SC has repeatedly ruled that bribe givers -wine (in this case the parma societies) and the corrupt (doctors) are also responsible.
He asked the court to intervene to establish a guideline to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for giving gifts to doctors. The petition filed through lawyer Aparna Bhat informed the court that “Indian pharmaceutical companies are spending huge sums of money on sales promotions to induce doctors to generate maximum prescriptions, thereby increasing the drug sales”.
“A study noted that the seven major pharmaceutical companies had spent Rs 34,187 Crores on marketing over the last eight years (Rs 4,273 cr per year on average) to make drugs expensive. Sales promotion expenditure constitutes 20% of the cost of drugs, which takes drugs away from the reach of the common man,” the association said.
“Although referred to as ‘sales promotion’, these are direct or indirect benefits provided to physicians (in the form of gifts and entertainment, sponsored overseas travel, hospitality, and other benefits) in exchange for increased drug sales,” the petitioner alleged.
Last month, the SC ruled that pharmaceutical companies were not entitled to claim a tax exemption on expenses incurred to induce doctors to promote their medical products and that it would be considered part of their income.
A bench of judges UU Lalit and S Ravindra Bhat on February 22 had rejected a pharmaceutical company’s plea seeking exemption on expenses of Rs 4. 7 crores incurred on gifts, which included hospitality, conference fees, gold coins, LCD televisions, refrigerators, laptops, etc., to medical practitioners to publicize a health supplement manufactured by it.
The SC had confirmed the 2012 circular issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes specifying that expenditures incurred by pharmaceutical and related industries in the health sector for the distribution of incentives to doctors are not eligible for the benefit of the article 37(1) of the Income Tax Act regarding business deduction.
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