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Mumbai-based NGO asks CBDT to audit drug distribution firms for providing freebies to physicians in violation of IT Rules
April, 03rd 2014

The Mumbai-based Society for Awareness of Civil Rights has approached the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to direct Indian drug distribution firms of the bio- medical instruments or diagnostic tools (of above one lakh each) for scrutiny of benefits provided to the doctors for the financial years 2012-13 and 2013- 14.

In accordance with the Medical Council of India (MCI) notification in 2012, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) had through a circular dated August 1, 2012 brought all the freebies and facilities given or received by the doctors under the Annual Income Tax returns, failing which could lead to penalties under Income Tax Rules. Penalties include suspension of license to practice.

The NGO in a letter addressed to the director, has pinpointed that there is a huge amount of corruption and kickbacks involved with MNC giants and agents in India bribing the Indian healthcare professionals to influence decisions for accrual of commercial benefits at the cost of patient care.

It has also been demanded by the NGO that the CBDT should put the declarations or penalty prosecution details industry wise on the website for public scrutiny to complement ongoing actions. It also asked for putting the list of doctors violating norms in the public domain.

As per the MCI directive, doctors and their families are forbidden from accepting the freebies and facilities from the healthcare industry directly or indirectly like gifts of any kind and of any value, travel tickets and expenses by any mode under any pretext including for attendance of Continuing Medical Education (CMEs), hospitality of any kind and any value such as hotel accommodation, meals etc, grants for research except through recognised institutions such as hospitals. The directive also prohibits endorsement by doctors and professional associations of any item of any commercial value.

Informs RPY Rao, president, Society for Awareness of Civil Rights, "In the past, a petition by the Confederation of Indian Pharmaceutical Industry requesting Himachal High Court to strike down the Income Tax Rule was rejected. The Court held that medical practitioners are known to prescribe pharma brands in lieu of gifts and other freebies."

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