Sunday January 21, 2018

Medicine and Corruption: Are Pharma firms running ‘free health camps’ to increase sales?

0
//
310
The image is for representation only. Photo Credit: www.fahnpwa.org
Republish
Reprint

‘I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism……….I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability…….I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.’– Hippocratic Oath

A report published by the BMJ journal on Wednesday (i.e. December 2, 2015), has again exposed the unethical practices that are rampant in the medical field.

Medicine is a noble and respectable profession. People look up to doctors as saviors. The poor and the underprivileged consider them as equivalent to their Gods. This high expectation has naturally got translated into a high responsibility that the doctors and other medical professionals are expected to shoulder.

This is reflected in the ‘Hippocratic Oath’, which the practitioners of Western medicine are supposed to adhere by. The significance of this oath is in the fact that it portrays the medical profession, not as business or employment, but as a service towards humanity and expects the doctors to be totally dedicated and selfless.

Yet, in practice, one encounters a completely different scenario, which is filled with greed and corruption which has left no place for ethics. The doctors, the medical institutes, the diagnostic centers, the pharmaceutical companies and all other stakeholders responsible for safe health services are involved in one or the other kind of malpractices.

There have been reports about how medical colleges are knee deep in corruption. The frauds committed by these colleges range from hiring doctors to write exams to hiring fake patients during a government inspection. The nexus between doctors and diagnostic centers is another area of malpractice. Several doctors have been found to prescribe unnecessary tests in return for huge commissions.

Now, this new BMJ report has successfully exposed the unethical nexus that exist between the doctors and the Pharmaceutical companies. The report explains how the Pharma companies are using free health camps as tools for increasing their sales and market penetration.

It reveals that several Indian drug firms, as well as Indian arms of several Multinational Pharma companies like Abbott, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, and Sanofi are involved in these activities.

The report sheds light on two things: One, Pharmaceutical sales representatives are involved in screening and testing of patients in the health camps. Two, the doctors are prescribing medicines from those particular companies in return for testing services.

The sales representatives are not medical professionals who have medical training or licensing to conduct various tests, be it blood, urine, or any other tests. These screenings by unlicensed and non-medical people may result in wrong diagnosis or over-diagnosis, which may in turn cause harm to the patients.

These practices are not only unauthorized and illegal, they are also completely unethical. The report reveals that many Pharma companies are doing these free health camps as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, yet the real motive appears to be money, not service.

But, Pharma companies could not have indulged in these activities, if they did not have the active support of certain sections of doctors. Doctors are not supposed to prescribe any specific brand to their patients in return for any benefits from those companies. This is against the Medical Council of India (MCI) guidelines. Further, it is highly unethical as well because, they are not only putting the patients’ lives at risk, they are also increasing the economic burden of the patients by prescribing a high-cost drug of a particular company even when a low-cost alternative from another company is available.

It is high time that the government took notice of the rampant corruption and illegal practices prevalent in the medical field and create mechanisms to root out this malaise that has reduced medicine from being a noble service to a money making industry.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 NewsGram

Next Story

Facts About India’s First Female Doctor: Rukhmabai Raut

Rukhmabai worked to a great extent for the upliftment and betterment of women. She even published a pamphlet and called it “Purdah-the need for its abolition.”

0
//
15
Rukhmabai was born on November 22, 1864, in a Marathi family to Janardhan Pandurang and Jayantibai. Wikimedia Commons
Rukhmabai was born on November 22, 1864, in a Marathi family to Janardhan Pandurang and Jayantibai. Wikimedia Commons
  • Rukhmabai was involved in a landmark legal case involving her marriage as a child bride between 1884 and 1888
  • Rukhmabai was born on November 22, 1864
  • Rukhmabai was married at the age of 11 to a 19-year-old boy Dadaji Bhikaji

Rukhmabai Raut was one of the bold and progressive women of that time. The other notable first Indian females to practice medicine are Anandibai Joshi, Kadambini Ganguly and Chandramukhi Basu.

Rukhmabai was the first Indian physician who is best known for being one of the first Indian women doctors in colonial India as well as being involved in a landmark legal case involving her marriage as a child bride between 1884 and 1888. It was a real big deal back then in India at that time.

Also Read: Rene Laennec: The Man Who Invented Stethoscope

 

Rukhmabai was the first Indian physician. Wikimedia Commons
Rukhmabai was the first Indian physician. Wikimedia Commons

The case raised quite a significant public debate across Indian society, which mostly included law vs tradition, social reform vs conservatism and feminism in both British-ruled India and England. The uproar ultimately contributed to the Age of Consent Act in 1891.

Rukhmabai was born on November 22, 1864, in a Marathi family to Janardhan Pandurang and Jayantibai. Her mother suffered because of the custom of child marriage. Rukhmabai was known for her staunch stand against divorce and her love for higher studies in medicine.

Before becoming one of the pioneers of women emancipation, Rukhmabaihad a life full of struggle

Top 5 Unknown Facts about Rukhmabai Raut?

  1. Rukhmabai was married at the age of 11 to a 19-year-old boy Dadaji Bhikaji. She was just 8 years old when her father. Rukhmabai chose to complete her education. It is said that the couple never lived together

2. Rukhmabai’s Mother Jayantibai transferred all her property to her. Later, Jayantibai remarried and Rukhmabai step-father supported her at every step.

3. Rukhmabai refused to live with her husband and maternal-in-laws because they were after her property that she inherited from his deceased father. She even fought a long legal case against her husband and in the end, Dadaji Bhikaji won the case. The judgment was criticised by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and other prominent Hindu leaders. The court criticized her stance on marriage and her aversion to reuniting with her husband.

4. In 1884, Rukhmabai’s husband filed a petition in the Bombay High Court and pleaded to restore conjugal rights of the husband over his wife. The court in its judgement told Rukhmabai to comply or to go to prison. Rukhmabai refused the judgment and stated that she would suffer imprisonment rather than entering into a marriage she did not want.

5. The case again came to court in 1887. This time, Rukhmabai wrote numerous pieces of letters under a pseudo name,“A Hindu Lady”, stating the condition of women, who became victims of child marriage. Her articles got her the support and public sentiments in her favour.

Also Read: Acharya Charaka: Indian father Of Medicine, Author of Charaka Samhita “science of Ayurveda”

6. Rukhmabai did not take the lying down and pleaded Queen Victoria. But still, she had to shell out  Rs 2000 to her husband as a settlement.

Google India paid a rich tribute to Dr Rukhmabai Raut by dedicating its doodle depicting a lady with a stethoscope around her neck. Wikimedkia Commons
Google India paid a rich tribute to Dr Rukhmabai Raut by dedicating its doodle depicting a lady with a stethoscope around her neck. Wikimedkia Commons

7. A public fund was raised to support her travel and study in England at the London School of Medicine for the 5 years degree course.

8. After her successful completion of medicine course, Rukhmabai returned to India as a qualified physician in 1894 and joined a hospital in Surat as the First practising female doctor in India. There she served as the chief medical officer for 35 long years and retired around 1930. She breathed her last in 1955, at the age of 91.

9. Rukhmabai worked to a great extent for the upliftment and betterment of women. She even published a pamphlet and called it “Purdah-the need for its abolition.”

10. Last year, even Google India paid a rich tribute to Dr Rukhmabai Raut by dedicating its doodle depicting a lady with a stethoscope around her neck, surrounded by women patients and nurses in a hospital.