“We have formed an internal committee that will soon meet to lay down the rules. Since MRs are using the hospital premises to market their products, they must pay. Till the modalities are fixed, we will not allow entry to MRs,” said Medica chairperson Alok Roy.
At a meeting with doctors this week, Roy had urged them to use only generic names for drugs prescribed. But doctors have refused to do that. A majority of doctors on payroll have also decided that they will continue to meet MRs outside the hospital premises. “We are not bonded labourers and the hospital can’t dictate professional terms. Interacting with MRs is an integral part of our job and often help us. Not all doctors, for instance, have the time to keep track of the latest medicines. Interacting with MRs helps them keep abreast of the new drugs on offer. Also, pharmaceutical companies have no other way of reaching out to doctors. They can’t be denied their legitimate right to market their products,” said a senior medical doctor. He added that pharmaceutical companies often organized medical seminars that serve as an important platform. “These are legitimate activities that will now be lost,” he added.
Another doctor pointed out that MR interactions didn’t always have a sinister motive. “The general perception is that MRs push drugs and doctors go by them for financial gains. There is now enough vigilance to prevent that. If pharmaceutical companies are promoting their drugs through doctors, they are also giving away medicines at a much cheaper price to hospitals. So, hospitals also stand to gain. Now, if MRs are charged across all hospitals, pharma companies will obviously hike medicine prices to neutralize the expense. If that happens, patients will be the losers,” he said.
Even though WBMSRU is yet to take a formal decision, it has rejected Medica’s payfor-meeting proposal. “This will set a bad precedent. If all hospitals start charging MRs, then marketing medicines will turn into an expensive proposition. We are yet to discuss it formally. Once we do, we will approach the pharmaceutical companies and seek their opinion,” said a WBMSRU representative.