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NMC Adjourns Its Regulations Directing Doctors to Prescribe Generic Drugs, Others

Written by : Aishwarya Sarthe

August 25, 2023

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The National Medical Commission (NMC) has halted the implementation of the Registered Medical Practitioner (Professional Conduct) Regulations, 2023, in response to reservations raised by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA).

The National Medical Commission (NMC) has temporarily suspended the enforcement of the Registered Medical Practitioner (Professional Conduct) Regulations, 2023. 

This move comes in response to concerns raised by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA). 

The contentious regulations, published on August 2, mandated doctors to prescribe generic drugs and prohibited them from receiving gifts from pharmaceutical companies or endorsing specific drug brands.

The IMA and IPA expressed reservations about the feasibility of prescribing generic medicines due to quality uncertainties. They further suggested that doctors should be allowed to attend conferences sponsored by pharmaceutical companies or the allied health sector. 

These organisations also called for reconsidering the regulation preventing doctors from participating in such conferences and advocated for exemptions of associations and organisations from the purview of NMC guidelines.

Days back, members of the IMA and IPA conveyed their concerns to Mansukh Mandaviya, highlighting potential challenges posed by the regulations. The NMC's regulations stipulated that failure to prescribe generic drugs could result in penalties, including suspending a doctor's licence.

In response to these concerns, the NMC notified, "The National Medical Commission Registered Medical Practitioner (Professional Conduct) Regulations, 2023, are hereby held in abeyance with immediate effect." The commission clarified that the regulations would not be operational until a further Gazette Notification is issued.

The NMC has also adopted the "Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002" as an interim measure, effective immediately. The commission invoked its authority under the National Medical Commission Act 2019 to make these regulations effective.

The suspended regulations contained provisions prohibiting doctors and their families from accepting gifts, travel facilities, and other forms of compensation from pharmaceutical companies, commercial healthcare establishments, and medical device companies. 

The regulations also disallowed doctors from participating in third-party educational activities sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry or the allied health sector. Endorsements of drug brands or medical products by doctors, individually or as part of organisations, were also prohibited.

The new regulations also emphasised the accountability of doctors attending to patients and outlined guidelines for dealing with abusive or unruly patients and their relatives. The use of alcohol or intoxicants that could affect professional practice was deemed as misconduct. The term '˜emergency' was formally defined as a "life and limb-saving procedure" for the first time, adding clarity to this aspect of medical practice.

Additionally, the regulations mandated a timely response to requests for medical records, with a stipulated time frame of five working days for acknowledgement and document supply in non-emergency cases.

As discussions continue between the NMC, IMA, and IPA, the medical community awaits further developments and clarifications on the regulations that govern their professional conduct.


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