Amendment of ‘Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics’ Regulations for the Doctors by the MCI could dramatically change the Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices in India, hereafter.

As reported in the media, the notification of the Medical Council of India (MCI) dated December 10, 2009 amending the “Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics), Regulations 2002″ has been welcomed by the medical profession.
Areas of stricter regulations:

The notification specifies stricter regulations for doctors in the following areas, in their relationship with the ‘pharmaceutical and allied health sector industry’:

1. Gifts
2. Travel facilities
3. Hospitality
4. Cash or Monetary grants
5. Medical Research
6. Maintaining Professional Autonomy
7. Affiliation
8. Endorsement

These guidelines have come into force with effect from December 14, 2009.

Possible implications:

With this new and amended regulation, the MCI has almost imposed a ban on the doctors from receiving gifts of any kind, in addition to hospitality and travel facilities from the pharmaceutical and allied health sector industries in India.

Moreover, for all research projects funded by the pharmaceutical industry and undertaken by the medical profession, prior approval from the appropriate authorities for the same will be essential, in addition to the ethics committee.

Although maintaining a cordial and professional relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and the doctors is very important, such relationship now should no way compromise the professional autonomy of the medical profession and a medical institution, directly or indirectly.

It also appears that the common practices of participating in private, routine and more of brand marketing oriented clinical trials could possibly be jettisoned as a pharmaceutical strategy input.

The new MCI regulations is much stricter:

Since the new amended regulations of the MCI are much stricter than the existing codes of marketing practices of the pharmaceutical industry associations, there could be an emerging disconnect between these two practices till such time a clearer picture emerges after due deliberations by all concerned, in this matter.

It is also interesting to note, how would the pre December 14, 2009 commitments for the post December 14, 2009 period, of both the medical profession and the industry related to such regulated practices, be handled by the MCI, in future.


Be that as it may, the new ball game of pharmaceutical marketing strategies and practices will no longer be driven by more of a ‘deep pocket’ syndrome and less of ‘cerebral power’, by all concerned.

If this happens, I shall not be surprised to witness a dramatic change in the prescription share of various companies in the next 3 to 5 years thereby impacting the ranking of these companies in the Indian pharmaceutical industry league table.

Thus, the name of the game in the pharmaceutical marketing space, in not too distant future, will be “generation and effective implementation of innovative ideas”.

By Tapan Ray

Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own, written in my individual and personal capacity. I do not represent any other person or organization for this opinion.