Relief for Docs as National Medical Commission Defers New Ethics Guidelines on Prescriptions, Conferences

The new notification of NMC says the conduct of the doctors would continue to be guided by the rules that were established 21 years ago.

New Delhi: The National Medical Commission (NMC) has put its guidelines on the professional conduct of doctors – which were issued on August 2 through a gazetted notification – in abeyance. 

The guidelines said doctors should prescribe generic medicines, and that medical conferences should not be organised through the sponsorship of pharma companies.

The guidelines also said that doctors should not endorse any product and should try to digitise medical records of patients, among other things. 

The issue of generic medicines had sparked debates, but now the government has decided to put the entire set of regulations on hold after a representation by the Indian Medical Association (IMA). 

The August 23 notification put these guidelines in abeyance with immediate effect. 

It said that the professional rules and regulations would be guided by a set of guidelines which were framed in 2002 and superseded by the new rules.

In essence, the ethics and regulations for doctors have been reversed to those framed about 21 years ago. 

Also read: NMC Guidelines: Doctors’ Orgs Find ‘Novel’ Ways to Organise Conferences Without Pharma Backing

The 2002 guidelines also had some of these provisions, like doctors not being allowed to travel on tickets sponsored by pharma companies, endorsement of medical products, etc.  But these did not have specific provisions of legal penalties which the new set of regulations had. The 2002 code of conduct said if any of the professional rules mentioned in it were violated, the state medical councils may take action “as deemed necessary” or may direct the removal altogether or for a specified period, from the register of the name of the delinquent registered practitioner. 

On the other hand, the new rules were not more specific in terms of what they mandated but also in terms of punishments, and as such, it proposed three levels of punishments — from issuance of advisory to suspension of licence for one month to three months. And for each violation, the rules had specified which level of punishment would be awarded. 

The IMA had raised huge hue and cry against the new rules and its delegation met Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya on August 21. The IMA has termed the NMC rescinding on the new guidelines as a “grand victory” and thanked Mandaviya for heeding to its demands.