Senators wary of marketing practices of pharma companies

ISLAMABAD: Members of Senate Standing committee on Health Services are apprehensive of unethical marketing practices adopted by pharmaceutical companies to sell their medicines.

During a meeting this week, the Senators suggested different measures to officials of Health Ministry to stop doctors from availing undue financial benefits in return for writing prescriptions suggested by medical representatives of companies.

According to chairman committee Sajjad Hussain Turi, an independent member, the medical professionals have failed to come up to the expectations of the masses and they lack empathy for patients.

Many hospitals have put restrictions on medical representatives of drug companies from visiting doctors beyond certain hours.

The hospital managements resorted to the step to keep in check hindrance created by medical representatives when doctors are checking the patients.

Senator of Pakistan Tehrik e Insaf (PTI) Nauman Wazir is of the view that lobbyists are hard at work to influence decision makers to get benefits.

He said he came to know that members of the pharma industry use 80 percent of their budgets to arrange foreign trips, perks and cash for medical practitioners to sell their medicines through illegal marketing practices.

These perks and cash incentives are even given to family members of doctors, he told.

MQM Senators Mian Attiq and other members suggested that the ministry should write a letter to pharmaceutical companies to stop illegal marketing practices.

The ministry officials agreed to look into the matter carrying grave consequences for the general public.

The committee gave the task to Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) chief Prof. Dr Shabbir Ahmed Lehri to keep a check on provision of perks to doctors by pharmaceutical companies.

Dr Shabbir assured committee of steps to put a stop to collusion between doctors and drug companies – which compete among themselves for sales.

The Senators had suggested that doctors should be made bound to inform about their trips abroad and stays at five star hotels in the country in the garb of medical seminars and conferences arranged by pharma companies. APP