Holy entrepreneurs

Their passion is to unload the pocket, not the sickness

Sajad Bazaz
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jan 12 2018 11:13PM | Updated Date: Jan 12 2018 11:13PM
Holy entrepreneursFile Photo

Recent unhealthy developments trapping our doctors’ community on wrong foot have triggered dual anger among masses. First, majority of opinion gathered against the ‘unholy’ practices of our medical doctors. Second, a group in defense of these holy professionals vomit anger against those who exposed their ‘unethical’ deeds. 

However, anger against doctors at our place is not a new phenomenon. The sancrosanct chord in doctor-patient relationship has only weakened over a period of time, which has adversely impacted the performance of our human savings institutes. 

The public is losing fast their trust in doctors. They see these holy men as driven for profit. Today, there is a common and growing feeling among the masses that their health concerns are not seriously taken care of despite paying treatment expenses through their nose.

Does all this sum up that doctor-patient relationship is no more sacred? Here I am reminded of an old proverb that "Doctor is the second God on this Earth". Genuinely so. For a patient, it’s the doctor who can rescue him from the clutches of death. This unflinching faith on doctors has never challenged their status as ‘second God’. We observe that a common man will fight for one or two rupee with a vegetable /fruit vendor but will never confront a doctor on treatment pricing. The reason is simple: For him this ‘second God’ is the only fervent hope to save  him getting consumed by a disease.

But do our ‘holy’ professionals (doctors) fit this adage. Over a period of time, this holy profession has been witnessing unholy trends at our place. These ‘holy men’, of course not all of them, have engaged themselves in trading politics rather than treating patients. It’s bizarre, striking work and leaving patients unattended has become a new norm for them. 

Besides, they have developed an attitude to look upon a patient as a money generating machine and don’t hesitate to employ all strategies to make money. Most of them, unfortunately, only focus on the pocket of the patient. It makes to them no difference whether the condition of the patient improves or worsens. What they value is just money,  anything else!

Take the case of spurious drugs. It’s a huge concern confronting us on health front. Our doctors' community has been very vocal on spurious drugs flooding our hospitals and markets. They have been blaming administrative authorities  for allowing a spurious drug to enter into the J&K markets. But who is responsible to make these drugs to reach to the patient? Obviously, it’s this breed of ‘holy men’ playing a key role in spreading this menace. They are influenced to prescribe these spurious drugs. So they are one among key players to legalise the entry of these drugs into the markets and even into the government institutions like hospitals and dispensaries. Here the doctors as marketing agents of pharma companies act more as business functionaries. 

Precisely, our ‘second God’ is simply  a profit earning entrepreneur! Bribing doctors by the pharmaceutical companies directly or indirectly to prescribe their respective brand of drugs is an ages old worldwide phenomenon. But in our state it has now reached an alarming proportion, jeopardizing patients’ interest, seriously more than ever before. This unethical drug promotion has emerged a serious threat for our society.

Let me reiterate few important questions: Why can’t there be treatment guidelines issued by the government for the doctors in terms of prescribing medicines and conducting periodic prescription audits? Can’t we end this nexus between the doctors and the pharmaceutical companies by invoking a regulation wherein the companies are asked to follow disclosure norms stating expenses incurred on gifts to doctors?  Why can’t we have a ‘Sunshine Act’ where disclosure of all financial transactions and transfers of value between manufacturers of pharmaceutical / biologic products or medical devices and physicians, hospitals and covered recipients are made mandatory?

‘Sunshine Act’ will reveal actual pharmaceutical-marketing expenditures of individual drug companies. If the expenditure is found contributing disproportionately to the total expenses of the company, the regulators can immediately put strictures and force the company to stop unethical influencing of doctors. It can also have a huge impact on the medical expenses of patients as the controlled marketing costs will bring down the prices of medicines.

There is need to frame comprehensive legislation to make not only these holy but all health care professionals accountable to the system. This alone will help to strengthen the trust in doctor-patient relationship. More importantly, it will restore the credibility of holy profession in the state.

(The views are of the author & not the institution he works for)


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