HC seeks action taken report against docs taking gifts

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Poor patients compelled to purchase unnecessary medicine: PIL

NIDA ASIF IQBAL

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has sought action taken report against erring doctors who prescribe medicines for freebies.

A division bench of the court comprising Justice Hasnain Massodi and Justice D S Thakur while hearing a Public Interest Litigation asked Additional Advocate General JA Kawoosa to inform the court whether any inquiry has been conducted against doctors identified by the petitioners who accept gifts from pharmaceutical companies. 

The court also asked the Kawoosa to inform about the action taken against the erring doctors on the basis of outcome of an earlier enquiry.     

The court while posting the PIL for further consideration in first week of April also asked the government to file statement of facts on the directions issued to control the menace.  

The PIL was filed last year by three people— Naseer Ahmad Shah, Lateef Panjabi and Imtiyaz Ahmad Shah— following reports in section of press, highlighting nexus between the doctors and pharma companies offering and taking “cash, freebies, kickback or gifts for prescribing medicines of Macro Lab Ltd.”

“Poor patients are being compelled to purchase unnecessary medicines and that too having no efficiency,” the petitioners said, adding, “The transactions are simply, at the cost of patient care, and resultant in surfacing of the spurious drugs or substandard drugs in the market.”

The doctors, who are in the race for amassing wealth by indulging in such malpractices, are causing damage to the health of public at large, the petitioner said.

The petitioner has named several doctors who are accsed of prescribing medicine against special consideration from the companies.

The petitioners have demanded initiation of action against the doctors who are involved in the commission and omission of offenses besides cancellation of their licenses.

The petitioners also demand ascertaining their assets and constitution of taskforce to look into such type of offences.

Besides they also seek black listing of the companies who are offering cash, freebies or kickbacks and also action against the representatives who are promoting their products.

The petitioners also seek imparting of moral education to medical students during their training period.     

Pertinently, On August 21 last year, scores of Kashmir based doctors were exposed after reports surfaced that they were receiving freebies from pharma companies for prescribing their medicine in order to increase their sales.

Government had then constituted a 3-member team to inquire the allegations leveled against doctors who received freebies from several labs including Micro-Labs Bangalore.

The 3-member team comprised of HOD Medicine Dr. Saima Bhat, Medical Superintendent (SMHS), Nazir Ahmad Chowdary and Registrar Government Medical College Srinagar, Dr. Wasim Khalid.

After the three-member panel submitted a report, Dr. Abdul Majeed Wani was attached to the office of the Principal GMC College.

According to Medical Council of India (MCI) rules, a medical practitioner shall not accept any travel facility inside the country or outside, including rail, air, ship, cruise tickets, paid vacations etc. from any pharmaceutical or allied healthcare industry or their representatives for self and family members for vacation or for attending conferences, seminars, workshops, CME programme as a delegate. (GNS)

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