Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP)

The Department of Pharmaceuticals has notified the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) 2024, which aims to curb unethical marketing practices by pharmaceutical companies.
The code, which came into effect on March 12, 2024, prohibits pharma companies from offering personal benefits to healthcare professionals or their family members, such as gifts, travel facilities, hospitality, cash, or monetary grants.

Key Provisions of UCPMP 2024

Prohibited Benefits: Pharmaceutical companies or their agents (distributors, wholesalers, retailers, etc.) are not allowed to offer gifts, travel facilities (inside or outside the country), paid vacations, or any other pecuniary advantage or benefit in kind to healthcare professionals or their family members.

Restrictions on Hospitality: Pharma companies are prohibited from extending hospitality facilities like hotel stays, expensive cuisine, or resort accommodation to healthcare professionals or their family members, unless they are speakers at conferences, seminars, or workshops.

Free Samples: The code stresses that free samples of drugs should not be supplied to any person who is unqualified to prescribe such products. Companies are required to maintain details of free samples distributed, including the product name, doctor’s name, quantity, and date of supply.

Monetary Limit on Samples: The monetary value of samples distributed by a company should not exceed 2% of its domestic sales per year.

Consistent Promotion: The promotion of a drug must be consistent with the terms of its marketing approval and should not be promoted prior to receiving marketing approval from the competent authority.

Balanced Information: Information about drugs must be balanced, up-to-date, verifiable, and not misleading. It should accurately reflect current knowledge or responsible opinion and must be capable of substantiation.

Ethical Conduct of Medical Representatives: Medical representatives must maintain a high standard of ethical conduct in the discharge of their duties and comply with all relevant requirements of the code. They must not employ any inducement or subterfuge to gain an interview or pay for access to a healthcare professional.

Enforcement and Penal Provisions

Ethics Committee for Pharma Marketing Practices (ECPMP): Each pharmaceutical association is required to constitute an ECPMP, which will handle complaints of code violations. The committee will comprise three to five members and will be headed by the CEO of the board. The appointment of committee members will be approved by the Board of Association and posted on their website.

Self-Declaration by CEO: The CEO of a pharmaceutical company will be responsible for adherence to the uniform code. A self-declaration must be submitted by the executive head of pharma companies within two months of the end of every financial year to the association and uploaded on the association website or the UCPMP portal of the Department of Pharmaceuticals.

Breach of Code: If a breach of the code is established, the ECPMP can propose to suspend or expel the entity from the association or reprimand the entity and publish full details of such reprimand.

Corrective Measures: The entity found breaching the code shall be required to issue a corrective statement in the same media (and other suitable media) which was used to issue promotional material. The details of the proposed content, mode, and timing of dissemination of the corrective statement must be shared with the committee for prior approval.

Recovery of Money or Items: The entity must submit details of the action taken by it to recover money or items provided in violation of the code from the concerned personnel to the committee in writing.

Recommendations to Government Agencies: In cases where disciplinary, penal, or remedial action lies within the domain of any agency or authority of the Government in accordance with the statute, the ECPMP may send its recommendations to such agency or authority through the Department of Pharmaceuticals.

The Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) 2024 is a significant step towards promoting ethical marketing practices in the pharmaceutical industry. By prohibiting unethical benefits and enforcing strict guidelines, the code aims to ensure that healthcare professionals are not unduly influenced by pharmaceutical companies in their prescribing decisions.



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