NEW DELHI: TheIndian Medical Association(IMA) is back at it – endorsing commercial products. Except, this time they are not calling it endorsement. The new name is “certifying a claim that is health friendly”. And theIMAis refusing to disclose how much this has been given for this certification citing “non-disclosure agreements” with the companies whose products have been certified.
The IMA has ‘certified’ a so-called anti-microbial LED bulb which claims to kill 85% germs and an indoor paint that claims to kill 99% infection causing bacteria within two hours exposed to the painted surface. Responding to TOI’s queries on this, IMA secretary general RV Asokan said that IMA only certified claims on whether a particular technology or statement is “health friendly”. “It is on the lines of pre-entry level accreditation cum certification of medical establishment by NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals),” he said.
Although he admitted that IMA received “a processing fee” for certifying claims, “As a processing fee” as collected by the company, I have had ‘certified’ or how much money it has collected. IMA also did not disclose what scientific study the certification was based on, whether it was a published in ascientific journaland who had funded the study. It is brushed the whole issue aside saying that claims are evaluated by a committee for “further processing” if “available literature and / or laboratory reports” are referred to credible.
After facing flak in 2010 for commercial products such as fruit juices, oats, soaps and waterpurifiersto earn crores of rupees, then Secretary General Dr. Dharam Prakash – who was given a notice by the matter by the Medical Council of India (MCI) – had said that as a policy IMA did not decide any more endorsements
In February 2014, the MCI reinterpreted the Code of Medical Ethics Regulations 2002 as being applicable only to doctors and not to their association. From clause 6.8 of the regulations which pertained to the “code of conduct for doctors and professional association of doctors in their relationship with pharmaceutical and allied health sector industry”, MCI decided to remove the term “association of doctors”. Thus, what was a different doctor was getting done by seven doctors (the minimum number required to form a association) getting together
In 2015, IMA was once again used in water purifier. IMA claimed that MCI’s rules and regulations were not corrected by the MCI’s jurisdiction and that raising money by endorsing or certifying health messages. However, doctors opposed to the endorsements pointed out that IMA office bearers who took the decision for endorsement were doctors and hence under MCI jurisdiction.
Chairman of MCI’s Board of Governors (BoG) Dr. Vinod Paul has been contacted by TOI about thelatest endorsements said that the board has received this complaint and “seized of the matter”. It will examine the issues of doctors’ associations endorsing products.