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THE PHARMA REVIEW (JUNE 2008)

Ethical Code of Conduct for Drug Marketing

Pavan Malhotra, O. P. Gupta, Shakti Bala, Archana Parihar

Abstract: Most of the clinicians are aware that some pharmaceutical companies make tall claims of therapeutic potency of their products to survive in a highly competitive medical market violating the ethical code of conduct and risking the life of consumer. A tendency to provide one sided information to the clinicians, only by giving the optimistic view and not talking about the darker facts i.e. adverse effects or drug interactions amounts to jeopardizing the patient's life. The implementation of ethical code of conduct will provide adequate safeguard against the risk of therapeutic entity. Thus the main objective of adopting ethics for drug promotion is to ensure improvement in health care system.

Establishment of ethical criteria
WHO conference of experts on the “Rational use of drugs”, held in Nairobi in 1985, prepared a revised drug strategy which was endorsed by 39th World Health Assembly in 1986 vide resolution No. WHA 39.27. Among other components, this included ethical criteria to be adopted for the drug promotion as an extension and updating of ethical and scientific criteria of 21st World Health Assembly in 1968 (WHA 21.41). The ethical criterion desired to be adopted by different governments as per the national circumstances, is for both prescription and non-prescription (OTC) drugs and also for traditional as well as any other product promoted as a drug. This criterion when adopted by a Government implicitly means its application through the drug regulatory authority - FDA/Drug Controller, to pharmaceutical companies and their offshoots - advertising and marketing agencies, prescribing and dispensing bodies and teaching professionals. The criteria does not attract any legal obligation. It is up to various governments to adopt legislation or other measures as they may deem fit to make various agencies falling under their control to adopt the said criteria.

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