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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 20253

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.

 

Publication type: news

Unnikrishnan C
Doctors' freebies to be taxed
Times of India 2012 Aug 7
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-08-07/mumbai/33081949_1_freebies-pharma-firms-organization-of-pharmaceutical-producers


Full text:

The income-tax (I-T) department will tax the amount pharmaceutical and allied health sector industries spend on freebies for medical practitioners and their professional associations. Those who accept the freebies will also be taxed.

The decision follows an amendment to Medical Council of India regulations banning doctors and their associations from accepting freebies. The freebies include money, travel facilities and hospitality extended by pharma firms and makers of medical devices and ‘nutraceuticals’.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes August 1 circular says the department has come across such instances and a senior pharma company official admitted companies do it to advance sales. He said a company was planning to take around 80 doctors from across the country on a full-expenses paid foreign trip for a ‘seminar’.

The I-T department grants an exemption to money spent on business promotion. It accepts firms’ claims and allows deduction. An official said, “Pharma firms cannot claim the benefit as regulations prohibit it. If we can prove the company extended freebies to doctors, they have to pay taxes. Those who receive freebies will also have to pay a tax on the gift’s value or money spent on it. If a doctor gets a fridge, its market value will be treated as income.’‘

Chandra Mohan Gulati, a drug regulatory expert, said it was a great first step but “let it not be the last”. He felt doctors should be told to mention details of their ‘gifts’. In 2009, MCI had set guidelines for doctors vis-a-vis pharmaceutical companies.

Ranga Iyer, who used to head Wyeth and the OPPI (Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India), said, “We must look at the IT Act changes in isolation. The need is for ethical marketing practices for pharmaceutical firms and we support any such move.’‘

Dr Arun Bal of the Association for Consumers’ Action on Safety & Health an NGO that works for patients’ rights, said, “This follows attempts by MCI and the government to bring about self-regulation among doctors and the industry.’‘

 

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Far too large a section of the treatment of disease is to-day controlled by the big manufacturing pharmacists, who have enslaved us in a plausible pseudo-science...
The blind faith which some men have in medicines illustrates too often the greatest of all human capacities - the capacity for self deception...
Some one will say, Is this all your science has to tell us? Is this the outcome of decades of good clinical work, of patient study of the disease, of anxious trial in such good faith of so many drugs? Give us back the childlike trust of the fathers in antimony and in the lancet rather than this cold nihilism. Not at all! Let us accept the truth, however unpleasant it may be, and with the death rate staring us in the face, let us not be deceived with vain fancies...
we need a stern, iconoclastic spirit which leads, not to nihilism, but to an active skepticism - not the passive skepticism, born of despair, but the active skepticism born of a knowledge that recognizes its limitations and knows full well that only in this attitude of mind can true progress be made.
- William Osler 1909