(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 02, 2012
Representatives Strike for Drug Prices Control
response to the decision of the recently held working committee
meeting of the Federation of Medical & Sales
Representatives’ Associations of India (FMRAI) at Vijayawada
(AP) on July 22 and 23, 2012, medical representatives (MRs, or
sales promotion employees of the pharmaceutical industry)
observed a strike all over the country on August 23, 2012.
may note that these MRs number more than 1.5 lakhs.
Delhi, thousands of medical representatives, under the banner of
Delhi Sales & Medical Representatives’ Organisation (DSMRO),
which is affiliated to the FMRAI, did not turn up on the day for
their field work in major hospitals and institutions. These
large number of these workers campaigned during the day on their
demands which prompted this industrial action. This section of
workers observed the strike to draw attention to the large-scale
corporate corruption in the pharmaceutical sector and the
government’s dismal failure to reign in this corruption as well
as the rising prices of medicines. It may be noted that a
section of media was only in the recent past targeting this very
section of workers and doctors for corruption, thereby diverting
the focus of popular attention from the employers who are
actually behind these practices.
demanding a cap on medicine prices, the MRs pointed out that
high taxation on medicines, including the MRP based excise
duties, are one of the major reasons for the high prices of
medicines. They also demanded stringent laws, a regulatory
system and a code of ethics which must be mandatory and not voluntary.
Medical Representatives were also protesting against the
increasing attacks, social humiliations and even restriction at
their places of work like government hospitals, other
institutions, private doctors’ chambers etc. It is worth mentioning
that as per the provisions of law including the SPE Act, sales
promotion employees have legal rights to work at such places.
FMRAI has also been
demanding that all drugs must be brought in the National List
of Essential Medicines (NLEM) under cost-based price control
as applicable to the ‘list of essential drugs’ under the Drug
Prices Contrl Order (DPCO) 1995. this would help ensure their
availability through compulsory manufacturing and through the
public sector units (PSUs). The FMRAI has organised several
actions including strikes in pursuance of this demand.
MRs also submitted a memorandum listing their demands to the
ministry of labour as well as the ministry of health and family
welfare at the end of the day.