Indian drugmakers hashing out new ethical marketing code

Indian doctors looking for handouts like paid vacations and other freebies may be in for a rude awakening if the country's drug companies and multinational pharma giants can agree to a proposed code of practice for ethical marketing of their products, according to a report by the Economic Times.

Representatives of 40 to 50 companies held a closed-door meeting on Oct. 14 to hash out a "voluntary and moral commitment" for ethical marketing. The group at the meeting represents almost half of the companies involved in the country's $15 billion industry, the Economic Times reported.

The newspaper said previous efforts to craft a marketing code of ethics failed because groups like the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, the Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) and the Indian Drug Manufacturers' Association could not agree on a plan.

The latest meeting, according to the Economic Times report, comes as India's government has said it plans to make the current marketing code covering the industry mandatory in 2016. The current code is voluntary and is said to be violated on a regular basis, the Economic Times reported.

OPPI Director General Ranjana Smetacek

Ranjana Smetacek, director general of OPPI, said the group would be working with the government to "tweak" the code so that it is "more practical and implementable," the Economic Times reported.

"We recognize that the code has to be mandatory but before it is implemented we want certain queries to be addressed," Smetacek said in a separate report in the Business Standard.

Smetacek also said the OPPI will work with the government to "boost innovation" in the industry and would soon present recommendations for various policy reforms.

"We want to push innovation and hope to share with the government measures which can create a favorable environment for innovation," Smetacek told the Business Standard.

- here's the story from the Economic Times
- and one from the Business Standard