ERemedium, India’s leading Pharmaceutical Advertising Agency works closely with Pharmaceutical, Medical Devices and Diagnostics firms to perform Healthcare Marketing
The identification of the nature of an illness or other problem by examination of the symptoms is known as medical diagnosis. And to treat those symptoms, the examiner often recommends drugs.
The pharmaceutical industry discovers, develops, produces, and markets drugs or pharmaceutical drugs for use as medications to be administered to patients, with the aim to cure them, vaccinate them, or alleviate the symptoms. Pharmaceutical companies may deal with generic or brand medications and medical devices.
The OCPP defines “Pharmaceutical Advertising” as any activity undertaken, organised or sponsored by a member company which is directed at healthcare professionals to promote the prescription, recommendation, supply, administration or consumption of its pharmaceutical product(s) through all media, including the internet and mobile SMS etc.
What is the Pharmaceutical Advertising state in India?
The pharmaceutical industries throughout the World are heavily involved in aggressive Pharmaceutical Advertising, with a clear aim to change the prescribing habits of physicians. Broadly, drug promotion refers to all the informational and persuasive activities of the pharmaceutical industries, the effect of which is to induce prescription, supply, purchase, and use of medicinal drugs. It includes
- The activities of medical representatives
- Drug advertisements to physicians
- Provision of gifts and samples
- Drug package inserts
- Direct-to-consumer advertisements
- Continuing Medical Education (CME)
- Holding of conferences
- Scientific meetings
- Sponsoring of medical education
- Conduct of promotional trials
In India, pharmaceutical industries have the right to advertise their products, but it should be done in a fair, accurate, and ethical manner. Pharmaceutical Advertising needs to be reliable, truthful, informative, balanced, up-to-date, and capable of substantiation in good taste. However, nowadays, whilst the advertising methods have become very sophisticated and effective, it was found that while advertising their products, the pharmaceutical industries do not adhere to these ethical principles. Hence, in most situations, these lead to irrational use of drugs.
In India, Drug Promotion is largely governed by the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) and national legislation. However, the implementation of the code of ethics developed by the OPPI is a matter of self-regulation and self-discipline.
According to the Drugs and Magical Remedies Act, 1954 Section 3 (d), “No person shall take part in the publication of any advertisement referring to any drug in terms which suggest or are calculated to lead to the use of that drug for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease, disorder or condition specified in the Schedule, or any other disease, disorder or condition (by whatsoever name called) which may be specified in the rules made under this Act.”
Is Direct-to-Consumer Pharmaceutical Advertising possible in India?
Direct-to-Consumer Advertising (DTCA) is key to any business. However, DTCA advertising has always been a challenge for pharmaceutical and medical device companies in India. Direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) is a tool used by pharmaceutical companies to market and promote medicines directly to potential consumers by utilising different media. Direct to consumer promotion of pharmaceutical products is considered illegal in many parts of the world. The United States and New Zealand are the only two countries which have legalized DTCA, but the advent of the internet has broken all barriers. Advertisement of prescription medicines through the internet and social media has made it difficult for government and regulatory authorities to effectively implement the laws which govern Direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA). In India Despite the existing legislations banning the advertisement of drugs in certain diseased conditions, lucrative advertisements of drugs and medical remedies are freely flowing in the Indian mass media nowadays. These advertisements allure the vulnerable consumers thus increasing the threat of self-medication in society.
In India, DTCA is allowed for OTC (over the counter) drugs only, though OTC does not have legal recognition in India, all the drugs that are not included in the list of ‘prescription drugs’ are considered as nonprescription drugs (or OTC drugs).
DTCA is not allowed for the drugs falling under the schedule H & schedule X of Drug and Cosmetics Rules, 1945. Drugs falling under Schedule G require the following compulsory warning on the label: “Caution: It is dangerous to take this preparation except under medical supervision” and hence are not allowed to be advertised directly to the consumers because of their toxicity & their potential for harm due to inappropriate & unnecessary use.
DTCA if implemented & used correctly can lead to a decrease in healthcare costs, promotion of responsible self-medication, a good source of health information to the general public. It will also be helpful in early diagnosis, better treatment & improved patient compliance. However, due to lack of strict implementation of laws, Indian consumers are being constantly exposed to advertisements for prescription as well as non-prescription via television, internet, social media & other forms of media.