The rampant practice of pharmaceutical companies luring doctors with freebies to promote their brand of medicines is the focus of our Cover Story package this week. The issue came into the spotlight during the Supreme Court hearing of a PIL that quoted a CBDT report, according to which the makers of Dolo-650 distributed freebies worth Rs 1,000 crore to doctors. This, stressed the petitioner, was only a tip of the iceberg and it was prepared to submit a long list of such malpractices to the court. The case, says our Cover Story, is likely to open a can of worms as Dolo-650 is among a myriad of drugs that ‘obliged’ doctors prescribe to patients, thereby playing with their health at times.
The other story in the package emphasises upon the need to have a law to punish the guilty; otherwise, it says, the nexus between the pharmaceutical companies and the doctors will continue to flourish. Highlighting s the one-sidedness of the current regulation, it says while the MCI code of ethics bars doctors from accepting any kind of gifts from pharmaceutical companies, the code for the latter is only voluntary. Like other countries, India too needs a law which curbs these unethical practices and also mandates punishment to those playing with the health of the people, says our story. Yet another story is about the accusation that the attempt to make the Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices a legally binding code of ethics has remained a no-starter because of the turf war between ministries. It also incorporates the viewpoint of drug firm executives, who say that freebies don’t ensure that doctors will prescribe their drugs. It is simply a marketing strategy, they insist.
On the occasion of Teacher’s Day, we carry an erudite piece by an expert in the education sector as the Centrespread. Elaborating upon the aim of education and the role of a teacher, the writer dwells upon the manifold advantages of virtual teaching-learning and lauds how it proved effective during the pandemic. However, he says the advantages of virtual classroom are far outnumbered by its disadvantages and explains why it can never become an alternative to real classroom teaching. The need of the hour, he concludes, is a blended mode of education. In an accompanying box, he highlights the six-fold role of a teacher.
Asian tiger Malaysia, which hosts the third-largest PIO community in the world, is our Globetrotting destination. Besides focusing on the growing engagement in all aspects of relationship between India and Malaysia, our story says the strategic relationship got a further boost when Malaysia showed interest in procuring the indigenously developed Indian fighter jet Tejas. It also traces the history of the country, outlines its geographic, demographic and religious characters and explains how it transformed from Malay to Malaysia. The box story is about Malaysia’s achievement of ‘unity in diversity’, similar to that of India.
Over to you!