Law for punishing doctors not ready

Approval process may take months

But the implementation would be a daunting task for the apex medical regulator. With 7,63,982 registered doctors till the end of 2009, MCI needs to actively engage the state medical councils – many of which are not in good terms with the MCI – to have an effective monitoring in place.

“MCI must have assessed their capabilities before going ahead with this. We have no role after notifying it,” sources in the Union health ministry told Deccan Herald.
The proposed amendments list out graded punishments for doctors (or their family  members) accepting gifts, travel facilities, hospitality and monetary rewards from the pharmaceutical industry.

Moreover, doctors are expected to maintain their professional integrity and independence of medical research and keep the highest standard of professional autonomy. They should not be associated with industry as consultants and should not endorse products.

The punishments range from censure (for accepting gifts valued at between Rs 1,000 and 5,000) to removal from the Indian or State Medical Register for a period of more than one year (for accepting gifts worth more than Rs 1,00,000).
For first time offence, the guilty doctor would be censured. Second time onwards the punishment would be harsher as it leads to removing their name from Indian (or State) medical registry – taking away their practising licences – for a certain number of months.

Interestingly, MCI has done away with the blanket ban on gifts imposed in December when the regulations were first issued.  Also there is no punishment for receiving gifts worth below Rs 1,000 and no specific time period mentioned in the proposal.
This has turned out to be a grey area with researchers on medical ethics wondering whether it meant doctors could take gifts worth Rs 990 every day.
The MCI is aware of the problem but is yet to come out with a practical solution.

The prescription & punishment

Gifts, Travel, Hospitality, Cash reward...
If the value is between
Rs 1,000 and 5000: Censure
Between Rs 5000 and 10,000: No medical license for 3 months
Between Rs 10,000 and 50,000: No medical licence for 6 months
Between Rs 50,000 and 100,000: No Medical licence for 1 year
Above Rs 1,00,000:
No license for more than year. No upper ceiling fixed
Medical Research, autonomy, affiliation and endorsement
If violate the ethical norms:
First time offender: Censure
Repeat offender: Taking away the medical licence for a period in accordance with the seriousness of the violation

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