October 05, 2009

Drug firms offer transport to docs for Delhi council polls

Pharmaceutical companies gifting pens, calendars, clocks and so on to doctors has become old hat. Panacea Biotech has come up with a unique new initiative where its medical representatives (MRs) in Delhi offer to arrange transportation for doctors who want to cast their vote in the Delhi Medical Council (DMC) Elections scheduled to be held on Sunday.

There have also been allegations that the MRs have been canvassing for one of the two factions fighting the DMC elections. Panacea joint MD Rajesh Jain, however, denied any company involvement in the elections. "From the company, there has been no move to offer transport or get involved in the elections. On an individual basis if some doctors have asked for transport, we might have obliged," he said.

However, several doctors insist that they have been canvassed by Panacea's MRs. Former secretary of Delhi Medical Association Dr Sarvesh Kumar insisted that he was given a pamphlet of the faction called Faith by a Panacea Biotech MR who sought votes for the group and offered transportation to the voting venue in Pusa Institute. "I told them to desist from such unethical canvassing and refused their offer of transportation, saying that I could afford my own transport," said Dr Kumar.

However, a Panacea executive said: "We are not interested in campaigning for any faction. We are merely providing a support service to doctors by offering to arrange for transportation to take doctors to the voting venue, irrespective of which camp or faction he or she might belong to."

An MR of the company confirmed that they have been covering doctors who figure on a list given to them by the senior management. "We are approaching doctors with whom we have a good relationship, that is, doctors who have been regularly prescribing our products. It is just a support service to make it convenient for them to vote. We have no stake in the elections," said the MR.

Several resident doctors, too, have been approached. "They gave me a pamphlet of the Faith group, canvassed on their behalf and said that they could arrange to pick me up from my residence and take me to the Pusa Institute to cast my vote," said a resident doctor working in Bhagwan Mahavir Hospital, Pitampura.

Such offers of transportation or canvassing go against the code of ethics of the Indian Drug Manufacturers Association (IDMA), of which Panacea Biotech is a member. "I agree it is against the code, but we can't do anything about it. The fact is, IDMA has no power to intervene, discipline or enforce the code," said an IDMA office bearer about Panacea's new initiative.

On the other hand, a senior faculty member of Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) said it was not at all surprising that doctors would accept such offers of transport as the venue, deep inside Pusa complex, is difficult to access for most doctors compared to the venue for the last election held five years back, which was the more centrally located MAMC campus.

Link: Original Article

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