The Ministry of Health has made it illegal for pharmaceutical companies to use doctors working at public hospitals in the Kingdom to promote sales of their products through agreements that require them to dispense medicines manufactured solely by that company.
“The ministry has implemented a number of measures designed to prevent companies from promoting their products through doctors,” Assistant Director General of Health Affairs, Makkah Region, Dr. Abdullah Al-Zahrani, said.
“The Performance Supervisory Department is monitoring hospitals and clinics in this regard,” he added.
Dr. Al-Zahrani said the ministry will fine private hospitals that violate regulations. Some pharmaceutical companies are working to promote their products by targeting doctors. The companies offer gifts and free travel for promoting their products by writing prescriptions.
“There are some representatives of pharmaceutical companies who visit doctors in their clinics to show them their latest products and discuss how to promote their products. However, many doctors refuse to take commissions for prescription,” Dr. Abdul Al-Salam Ameer, a dentist at a private hospital, told Arab News.
Many prescriptions have been dispensed to patients, who did not need them, because the doctor’s deal with the company requires him to do so. “Representatives of pharmaceutical companies make inquiries at hospital pharmacies about sales of their products. This way they can determine if a doctor is keeping their agreement. Pharmacy staff often won’t deal with them,” Ameer added.
“Doctors should prescribe proper medicine at good prices,” Ahmed Ghunaim, an Egyptian resident said. “I suffer from toothaches. I went to a dental clinic but my dentist prescribed a really expensive medicine. Then I discovered that this clinic had contracted with a pharmaceutical company to sell this expensive medicine.”