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Uniform Code of Pharmaceuticals Marketing Practices (“UCPMP Code”)

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Uniform Code of Pharmaceuticals Marketing Practices (“UCPMP Code”)

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview of UCPMP.

For Mains: Features, need for and significance.

Context: Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) has yet again “requested companies to abide by Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP)”.


There have been several instances of breach of the voluntary Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) by pharma companies. There has also been the demand from the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and doctors to make it mandatory.

What is UCPMP Code?

It is a voluntary code issued by the Department Of Pharmaceuticals relating to marketing practices for Indian Pharmaceutical Companies and as well medical devices industry. Applicability: At present, the UCPMP Code is applicable on Pharmaceutical Companies, Medical Representatives, Agents of Pharmaceutical Companies such as Distributors, Wholesalers, Retailers, and Pharmaceutical Manufacturer’s Associations.

Key features and provisions:

  1. No gifts, pecuniary advantages or benefits in kind may be supplied, offered or promised, to persons qualified to prescribe or supply drugs, by a pharmaceutical company or any of its agents.
  2. As regards travel facilities, the UCPMP Code prohibits extending travel facility inside the country or outside, including rail, air, ship, cruise tickets, paid vacations, etc., to HealthCare Professionals and their family members for vacation or for attending conference, seminars, workshops, CME programme etc. as a delegate. The Code also provides that free samples of drugs shall not be supplied to any person who is not qualified to prescribe such product. Meaning thereby that free samples can only be supplied to persons qualified to prescribe such product.
  3. It also prescribes additional conditions that are to be observed while providing samples.
  4. Further, as per the UCPMP Code, in order to appoint Medical Practitioners/HCPs as Affiliates there should be written contract, legitimate need for the services must be documented, and criteria for selecting affiliates must be directly related to the identified need.
  5. The UCPMP Code also provides that the number of affiliates retained must not be greater than the number reasonably necessary to achieve the identified need and that the compensation must be reasonable and reflect the fair market value of the services provided.

Need of hour:

Experts working in the area have long demanded that in the context of unethical marketing and promotion, the DoP should immediately implement a mandatory mechanism for company disclosures of payments towards doctors and professional bodies, including via third parties. The disclosures, which should be made at intervals and put in the public domain, should include the amount spent, individual or entity to which payment was made, and the reason for payment, including any services rendered.

Sources: the Hindu.