HC orders blacklisting pharma companies giving gifts to docs

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday ordered government to blacklist pharmaceutical companies or labs that provide gifts in cash or kind to doctors in the state.
The order is part of a slew of directions passed by a division bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Hasnain Massodi while closing a Public Interest Litigation, mainly seeking action against five doctors for taking gifts, freebies and kickbacks from a pharmaceutical company, Micro Labs, for prescribing medicines, some “unnecessarily”.
The Health and Medical Education Department has already issued chargesheet along with articles of charges against the five doctors—Firdous Ahmad Vaid, Fayaz Ahmad Peerzada, Abdul Ahad Wani, Wani Abdul Majeed, and Javed Ahmad Zargar.
“The chargesheet should be taken to its logical end and be concluded expeditiously within a period of six months,” the court said.
In another direction, the court directed the respondents including Chief Secretary and Commissioner Health and Medical Education among others to constitute a task force for surprise checks to find out if any other doctor has been indulging in similar types of activities along with the companies or labs offering such kickbacks.
“If anyone pharmaceutical company or lab is found to be indulging in such activities, then appropriate cases may be registered besides blacklisting such companies and banning the public dealings with them.”
According to the law, in case a government doctor takes gifts from any person(s) other than a near relative or friend either directly or permits any member of his family or any person acting on his behalf to accept it, he or she is liable for action.
“All the charged doctors and others may be asked to furnish the details of their assets including movable and immovable, so that it may be ascertained at appropriate time if their assets exceed their known sources of income,” the court said and further ordered that the directions shall be carried out and a status report be submitted to Registrar Judicial within two months.
Earlier, senior Additional Advocate General J A Kawoosa submitted that a circular has been issued by Health Department on January 21 prohibiting acceptance of any gifts, travel facility, hospitability, cash or monetary grants etc by the doctors.
The circular, court observed, has been found in consonance with the regulations known as Indian Medical Council (Professional conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002.
The PIL was filed by Naseer Ahmad Shah, Lateef Panjabi and Imtiyaz Ahmad Shah—all residents of Srinagar, through their counsel advocate Qazi Ayaz.
The petitioners had said they have proof that the five doctors received gifts from Micro Labs as well as sofa sets and amount of over Rs 30,000 from the company.
On December 23 last year, the division bench besides restraining doctors had also asked all the pharmaceutical companies to restrain themselves from giving gifts of any kind to doctors.
The bench had also directed the pharmaceutical companies not to arrange tours for doctors within India or abroad.
“The doctors shall attend research conferences only after it is certified by the Head of the Department that it is in the interest of patient care and the concerned HODs will be at liberty to authorize the doctors to attend the literary seminars after it is certified that the same is in the interests of public,” the court had said.
While J A Kawoosa represented State and Health Department, Shah Aamir appeared on behalf of SKIMS.