CPM, AAP leaders shoot off letters to health minister, seeking action against endorsement of commercial products by doctors
Pankaj Kumar | July 1, 2014 | New Delhi
Noted lawyer and Aam Admi Party (AAP) leader Prashant Bhushan and Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) leader Brinda Karat wrote a letter to the health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan to protect whistle blower Dr K V Babu from Kerala, who had brought to the notice of the Medical Council of India (MCI), the endorsment of commercial products by four doctors, which was illegal and against the MCI code of ethics.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the group of doctors in the name of Indian Medical Association (IMA) and PepsiCo for endorsement of their products — Quaker Oats and Tropicana on the payment of Rs 1.56 crore.
Bhushan’s letter states: “In 2010 November, the MCI declared that the PepsiCo food Products endorsement by IMA as unethical. The decision was declared in the Lok Sabha by Ghulam Nabi Azad, the then union health minister.”
The letters also say, Babu was later victimized by IMA that also decided to expel him. When he complained against this injustice, his complaint was heard by the MCI ethics committee, which found out that the four doctors were guilty of professional misconduct and recommended removal of their names from the Indian medical register for a year. This decision was taken in June 2013.
However, the newly-elected board of the MCI overturned the decision of the ethics committee. The MCI said it had no right to punish the IMA as it did not come under its purview.
Both Bhushan and Karat have written letters to the health minister, seeking action against the endorsement of commercial products and to protect Babu.
Karat wrote: “If the ill-conceived argument by the MCI is accepted, a situation will arise, where the law breakers and harassers acting in concert in the name of an association are exonerated and the whistleblower doctor will be punished.”
“It is clear that, the MCI is not complying with the provisions of the IMC Act 1956 and hence I request you to look into the matter and intervene in the interests of ensuring that the MCI does not violate its mandate to maintain high ethical standards,” she added.
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