Illuminating a compelling need for rigorous regulation
New Delhi, August 30, 2023: In a riveting discourse that left the healthcare sector captivated, a profound webinar titled ‘Demystifying the NMC Guidelines Conundrum’ unfolded against the backdrop of the recent postponement of the National Medical Commission (NMC) guidelines. In this intellectual rendezvous, luminaries in their respective fields convened to deliberate the path towards rectification. The insights that emerged encompassed a spectrum of perspectives, shedding light on intricate challenges and potential solutions.
During the enlightening session organised by HEAL Health, Prof. (Dr.) J. A. Jayalal, Secretary General, Commonwealth Medical Association & Former National President, IMA, asserted, “An act perceived as draconian has galvanized the medical fraternity and ignited a nationwide fervour. The conspicuous absence of generic drugs and the ‘One country, one drug’ principle cast shadows of doubt on accessibility. While prioritizing affordable healthcare remains pivotal, compromising medicine quality stands as an untenable proposition. The NMC guidelines stand as a blemish upon our nation’s ethos – a conundrum demanding an immediate address. A meagre 2% of medicines undergo quality control checks, illuminating a compelling need for rigorous regulation. The establishment of a dedicated body for Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training and the prohibition of pharmaceutical freebies for doctors emerge as pressing imperatives. Institutions must be endowed with grants for conducting CPDs, and government intervention becomes a sine qua non.”
Presenting a legal perspective on the NMC guidelines, Ms. Krishna Sarma, Managing Partner, Corporate Law Group, shed light on intricacies and voiced her insights, “The entanglement of Registered Medical Practitioners (RMPs) in third-party activities involving pharmaceutical companies, coupled with the haze surrounding generic medicines, beckons for clarity. Presently, over 50% of prescriptions issued by physicians are for fixed dosage combinations spanning various therapeutic categories. Thus, prescribing such medicines using generic names might pose challenges for RMPs, compounded by the difficulty chemists may face in dispensing such prescriptions. The current NMC guidelines appear bereft of wisdom and rationality, necessitating a complete rethinking. They seem to lack practicality and sensibility.”
Another eminent figure, Dr. Sanjiv Malik, Past National President, IMA, underscored, “The NMC guidelines, driven by a pursuit of cost reduction in healthcare, have elicited a chorus of concerns. The dichotomy between generic and branded drugs, accentuated by limited quality control measures, beckons scrutiny. The presence of draconian laws looms while safeguarding the interests of doctors remains elusive. Presently, doctors endure unwarranted litigation, humiliation, and even legal entanglements. Ensuring the rights of doctors and the transition to ‘Med doctors’ assumes paramount importance. The establishment of a CPD-supporting entity hinges on fiscal resolutions. The task of mitigating costs associated with corporate hospitals and asserting our professional identity presents itself as an imperative.”
As the host & moderator of this profound discourse, Dr. Swadeep Srivastava, Founder & CEO, HEAL Health, offered his perspective, expressing, “The current suspension of the NMC Guidelines invites answers to compelling queries. Will a revised version emerge? Will the ‘all generic prescription clause’ succumb to stakeholder concerns? Redefining the delicate demarcation between pharmaceutical sponsorship and ethical norms within the medical community merits our unwavering attention. Possibilities and transformations are rife, and our learning curve from exemplars is imperative to navigate this intricate labyrinth. I hope that the government’s suspension of the NMC guidelines carries purpose, paving the way for a revised draft that comprehensively addresses the concerns voiced since its initial issuance. This proactive step aims to appease the grievances of all stakeholders, primarily patients and the medical fraternity.”
In a nutshell, the webinar provided valuable insights into the NMC guidelines conundrum from various perspectives. The speakers highlighted the need for affordable and accessible healthcare without compromising quality and suggested several ways to achieve this goal. The government needs to take a bold stand to address these issues and work towards bringing down healthcare costs in the country.