The Union government is now working to release the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) guidelines shortly. The details on the exact time frame were not disclosed. The mandatory code will replace the existing voluntary UCPMP. Indian pharma companies hope to see its early implementation and are upbeat on complying with the new UCPMP.
“UCPMP is in the last leg of clearance with the government. The draft guidance has incorporated suggestions of the pharma industry and other stakeholders,” said Sudhanshu Pant, secretary, Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP).
“Our intent is that the new code should be followed in letter and spirit. It is not a draconian law but the penalties are stringent. We are enforcing fines. The violation of this code could also lead to suspension of product marketing”, said the DoP secretary who was in Bengaluru in connection with a UCPMP seminar organised by the Karnataka Drugs & Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (KDPMA) in association with the DoP in Bengaluru.
“The voluntary code issued last year was mild but created an awareness. We saw the industry buck up to adhere to the rules of the new game in marketing. However, there have been several charges against some companies during the period that violated the voluntary code and the government is taking action as per the provisions”, he added.
“Drafting UCPMP has been a learning phase and a new thing for the government. The industry feedback on the UCPMP draft was valuable. Now we need to ensure that the new guidelines which are just round the corner are followed from the top management and percolates to the sales teams or field force”, noted Pant.
Once a level playing field is created then both the pharma industry and the medical professionals will be restricted to offer and receive gifts respectively. Ultimately, the success of UCPMP will be on how the industry adheres to it, Pant said.
According to Sunil Attavar, president, KDPMA, UCPMP would not have been proposed to be a statutory law if the industry was disciplined and followed the guidelines of the existing voluntary code 2015. But now the revised UCPMP will become a reality as its enforcement comes in with more teeth and penal provisions. We hope to see its early implementation so that the uncertainty is over. There are few concerns and suggestions which we hope have been duly taken into consideration in the final order.
“We view the new UCPMP more as an opportunity than as a hindrance to the growth of the sector. It is the much needed trigger for the industry to realise and re-device strategies to market drugs. It took Indian pharma seven decades to register the current Rs.one lakh crore sales revenues. But conservative estimates confirm that the next Rs.one lakh crore sales could be achieved within seven years. However, it calls for a different marketing approach. Outdated and unsustainable marketing concepts will be replaced by solid evidence-based realizable models. This would be the only way to take the industry to the next level of competence and global recognition, said Attavar.
Indian pharma has the competence to scale up and follow stringent norms. Its ability to survive is proven with the FDCs ban and the growing list of drugs coming under DPCO. Now UCPMP is yet another path to prove innovation in marketing practices, said Attavar.