Unethical promotion of medicines is rife in India

April 01, 2004

The Indian government has failed to prevent the unethical and illegal promotion of prescription drugs, according to an editorial in this week's BMJ.

Government policies adopted in the 1970s permitted manufacturers in India to produce generic versions of branded drugs discovered abroad. This has led to an unprecedented growth of companies with little incentive to undertake research to make new drugs.

As such, companies resort to unconventional methods to sell their brands, and ethics take a back seat. Expanding indications, exaggerating efficacy, ignoring contraindications, and underplaying adverse effects have become routine practice, writes Chandra Gulhati.

Companies also create "novel" products by mixing two or more medicines. Such combinations are often irrational, and some pose danger, he says.

It is easy to find fault with policies adopted decades ago. Nevertheless, the government has failed in its duty of preventing unethical promotion that has already resulted in misery, illness, and death, he concludes.
-end-


BMJ

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