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Times of India
14 March 2010
By Rema Nagarajan
New Delhi, India

The Medical Council of India (MCI) has prescribed a bitter pill that all doctors must now swallow.

Doctors found accepting gifts from pharmaceutical companies will face punishment ranging from a fine to at least one year of licence-suspension.

More serious violations such as endorsing a pharmaceutical product could result in permanent removal of the doctor's name from the medical register, effectively ending the doctor's career.

To add shame to pain, the Council plans to publish on its website the doctor's name, that of the pharma company, nature of offense and punishment.

The proposals were finalised by the MCI at a meeting on Friday and sent to the health ministry for its approval.

"Even if the name of a doctor is restored on the medical register after the period of punishment, the record that such a case had happened and that the doctor was punished would be available on the website for the public to scrutinize," said MCI president Dr Ketan Desai.

The MCI first moved against pharma freebies for medicos in January, banning doctors from accepting gifts, travel facilities or hospitality of any kind from the drug industry. The latest move fixes the quantum of punishment for violations.

For gifts worth Rs 1,000-Rs 5,000, doctors will only be censured. That would mean that gifts worth up to Rs 1,000 would be acceptable but those up to Rs 5,000 would attract censure.

The council has been holding meetings since January to reach a consensus on the quantum of punishment, something that was proving difficult as members could not come to an agreement.

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