Punjab Medical Council investigates doctors for alleged payments from drug companies

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 27 October 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5655
  1. Priyanka Pulla
  1. 1Bangalore

The Punjab Medical Council has sent notices to 10 doctors for receiving funds from pharmaceutical and allied healthcare companies, alleging that the doctors violated the code of ethics of the Medical Council of India.

The code forbids doctors from accepting funds directly from drug firms, and any payments for services such as clinical research must be routed through institutions.1

The Punjab Medical Council’s president, G S Grewal, said that the doctors named in its order to show cause had received funds through their personal bank accounts from drug companies, thus violating the national rules.

The doctors have until 28 October to explain the payments. If the council is not satisfied it can begin proceedings against the doctors, which could result in a penalty such as the suspension of their licences.

The show cause notice named 21 companies, including Merck, MSD Pharmaceuticals, Sanofi India, Bayer Zydus Pharma, and Novartis Healthcare and the India based companies Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, Ranbaxy Laboratories (now a part of Sun Pharmaceuticals), Intas Pharmaceuticals, Eris Life Sciences, and Lupin. The notice also named three cord blood banking companies and two insurance third party administrators.

Grewal told The BMJ that his council identified the 10 doctors after scrutinising the tax records of a longer list of doctors who had previously been questioned for other ethical violations.

In March this year the council began investigating 164 doctors for being “ghost faculty,” a term for doctors who misrepresent themselves as full time teaching staff at medical colleges, in return for a payment.2 This misrepresentation allows these medical colleges to notch up their staff numbers and meet the requirements of the Medical Council …

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