The Punjab Medical Council (PMC) has sent notices to 10 doctors after income tax authorities pointed out that multinational pharma companies had paid them crores of rupees in bribes for recommending their drugs.
The notices were issued on October 6.
The doctors were never caught despite writing extra prescriptions in lieu of cash, gifts and foreign trips.
A patient seeks alms for medication in Mohali
PMC president GS Grewal said: “During scrutiny of records, it has come to light that pharmaceutical companies had financial transactions with medical practitioners registered with the PMC.”
He added: “Receiving any financial transaction from pharmaceutical and allied health sector industry are in violation of the Indian Medical Council Act.”
The pharma firms that had rained gifts on the doctors include Ranbaxy, E-Meditek, Intas, MSD, Merck, Lupin, Genins, Bayer, Glenmark, Bristol, Novartis, Sonafi, USV, Eris, MSD, CMR, Abbott, Lifecell, Cryobanks, Cordlife and Boehringer.
While it is well known that drug companies sponsor national and international tours and trips for doctors, besides offering them expensive gifts, this is the first time the PMC has come across bank details where some MNC drug companies have transferred money to the doctors.
In the notices, the PMC has asked the doctors why action should not be taken against them for gross violation of laws and medical ethics.
Grewal said that the code of conduct for doctors clearly states that a medical practitioner shall not receive any monetary grant from any pharmaceutical and allied healthcare industry under any pretext.
He added that these acts of professional misconduct erode the very fabric of the trust reposed by patients and public in the PMC, which is the statutory body mandated to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public and patients by ensuring proper professional, ethical and technical standards in the practice of medicine by doctors registered in Punjab.
“As president of PMC, it becomes incumbent upon me to deal with this illegal activity as well as take appropriate action for effective deterrence in view of the grave implications of these mala fide actions,” he added.
When contacted, Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij said: “I personally go to government hospitals and check the prescription slips. We will take strict action against the guilty doctors. The kickbacks issue is very serious and we will soon amend the laws to act against doctors who break norms.”
Hussan Lal, Secretary to the Government of Punjab, Department of Medical Education and Research, said: “We hope the PMC will take strict action against the doctors who accepted favours and amassed lakhs of rupees as kickbacks for prescriptions.”