Indian sales reps strike to demand strict drug-promo rules

In the U.S., pharma sales reps turn whistleblower when they believe their companies are flouting the rules. In India, they apparently go on strike.

According to domestic media reports, about 150,000 pharma reps stopped work today to call for stricter sales-and-marketing rules and stronger enforcement when rules are broken. In fact, the reps want the government to mandate ethical marketing practices--and to take "stringent action against pharma corporate corruption."

The demand for restrictions and accountability came in a resolution from the Federation of Medical Representatives Association of India. The association's manifesto decried "corruption" in the pharma sector, saying that the "code of ethics" recently adopted is useless because it's voluntary, not mandatory.

Reforms have focused on pharma reps themselves, rather than on their employers, the group says. Reps have been barred from some hospitals and other medial institutions, for instance. "This is ... to divert attention from the real perpetrators of medicine-related corruption and crime," the group states on its website. It also demanded a government investigation of "unfair marketing and trade practices of drug companies."

Pharma workers have been a recalcitrant bunch over the past year or so. This Indian strike follows a wave of protests against layoffs at Merck Serono, and, more recently, public demonstrations against Sanofi's ($SNY) planned cutbacks in France. So far, the take-to-the-streets mentality hasn't spread into U.S. pharma ranks.

- read the PharmaBiz story
- get more from the FMRAI

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