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Pharma reps in India strike over industry corruption and drug prices

FMRAI calls for improved regulation

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More than 150,000 pharma sales reps in India held a day-long strike on August 23, 2012, to demand improved regulation for the country's industry.

The Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives' Associations of India (FMRAI), which represents reps in India, said the strike would protest “against attacks on the job security and work of the medical representatives, against spiralling increase of drug prices and against pharma corporate corruption.”

Medical practitioners and medical reps were also becoming a target of “concerted attacks” from the government and corporate media, according the FMRAI, with the body's newsletter claiming there was a “move to shift the burden of responsibility of huge and wide-spread pharma corporate corruption on them [sales reps]”.

This has included such tactics as an increase in reps being banned from hospitals and medical institutions, as well as strengthening restrictions on what both medical practitioners and reps can do.n

“This is the tactics to divert attention from the real perpetrators of medicine-related corruption and crime, who in top of the industry are planning and executing with huge money to bribe which is earned through super profits by raising drug prices,” said the FMRAI.

Demands that the body is calling for include a statutory code for ethical sales and marketing practices for pharma companies; statutory provision and action against pharma corporate corruption; and a cap on medicine prices, which includes no tax on drugs listed in the country's National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).

The strike comes at a critical time for the pharma industry in India, with Novartis currently in the middle of a court battle that could change the country's patent laws.

And in May, 2012, India's Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), which is responsible for regulating the country's pharmaceutical sector, was criticised in a report by a committee convened by India's Ministry of Health for widespread collusion with pharma firms to speed medicines to market.

Despite such concerns, the pharma market in India is one of the most promising for the pharma industry, with a recent report suggesting it will reach an annual value of $54bn by 2020.

28th August 2012

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