The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has issued a statement following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claims that pharmaceutical companies were bribing doctors with ‘women, gadgets or foreign trips.’ The title of the statement read: ‘Deny or prove or apologise’.
“Reports have appeared in the media regarding the purported statement by Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi that top pharmaceutical companies bribed doctors with women. IMA takes strong exception to the statement,” read the statement.
In November 2019, a study by a Pune-based organisation, Support for Advocacy and Training to Health Initiatives (SATHI), had revealed that pharmaceutical companies attempt to lure doctors with holidays and trips, smartphones, and even gold jewellery. The study had been conducted by two doctors, Dr Arun Gadre and Dr Archana Diwate, and documented in a report titled ‘Promotional practices of the pharmaceutical industry and implementation status of related regulatory codes in India.’
According to The Print, on January 2, the Prime Minister had met officials from several top-notch pharmaceutical companies and told them not to take part in such unethical practices. Zydus Cadila, Torrent Pharmaceuticals and Wockhardt were among the big pharmaceutical companies the Prime Minister had reportedly met on January 2 in New Delhi.
In its letter, IMA has asked the Prime Minister’s office to clarify if the January 2 meeting ever took place and if the PM made such a statement. “IMA has noted that the PMO has not denied the report,” read the statement signed by the IMA’s National President Dr Rajan Sharma and Honorary General Secretary Dr RV Asokan.
The IMA also sought answers as to whether the government had proof that bribes in the aforementioned means were given to doctors by pharmaceutical companies. “If the surmise of the PM is based on unverified information, it is only appropriate that he apologise to the doctors of the country,” the statement read.