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Medical ethics in the spotlight: Experts highlight the importance of informed consent, quality generic medicines, and innovation at NHWIC-2024

| February 24, 2024 6:55:12 PM IST
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Health Presso

New Delhi [India], February 24: The National Health Writers & Influencers Convention (NHWIC-2024), Asia's largest congregation of health writers and influencers, hosted a session on "Navigating Medical Ethics in the Current and Future Landscape" at the AIIMS, New Delhi. The session, organized by HEAL Foundation, featured eminent experts from the fields of medicine, healthcare, and innovation, who shared their views and opinions on the ethical principles and challenges affecting clinical care practices in India.

The panellists at the NHWIC-2024 session highlighted the need for following the National Medical Commission (NMC) guidelines, which were issued in 2023 but have been kept in abeyance due to legal challenges, to ensure ethical and quality medical practice in India. The NMC guidelines aim to regulate the medical education and profession in India, and mandate the use of generic medicines, which should be at par to the specific drugs in terms of quality and efficacy.

Krishna Sarma, Founder and Managing Partner, Corporate Law Group, who moderated the session, said, "Navigating medical ethics is a critical issue impacting healthcare stakeholders. The current regulatory landscape, including the MCI Code and 'Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices' ('UCPMP') shapes doctor-industry interactions. The National Medical Commission (NMC) Act 2019 brought significant changes, yet the recent NMC Regulations of 2023, albeit in abeyance, signal a shift in medical practice. As we await further updates, it is essential for all involved parties to adhere to ethical standards and prioritise patient well-being. The panel remains hopeful that amendments to the NMC Regulations will align with the interests of doctors, patients, and the healthcare sector."

Dr Girish Tyagi, Registrar- Delhi Medical Council, President Elect -Delhi Medical Association, urged the doctors to read and adhere to the NMC guidelines, which are meant to protect the doctors and the patients from malpractice and negligence. He said, "The NMC guidelines are a comprehensive and updated set of rules and regulations that cover various aspects of medical practice, such as teachers' eligibility qualifications, registration of medical practitioners, licentiate examinations, and professional conduct. They also mandate the use of generic medicines, which can reduce the cost of treatment and increase the accessibility of drugs to the masses. The government should think and ensure that the generic medicines are not substandard or counterfeit, as they can compromise the treatment outcomes and increase the risk of drug resistance."

Dr Sunil Khetarpal, Director- Association of Healthcare Providers (India) - AHPI, emphasized the need for informed consent from the patients before any medical intervention. He said, "Informed consent is not only a legal requirement, but also a moral obligation. It ensures that the patients are aware of the benefits and risks of the procedure, and that they have the right to refuse or withdraw consent at any time. According to a study, 50% of cases of surgeries happen due to lack of consent, which can lead to complications, litigation, and loss of trust."

Dr Rajeev Gautam, Corporate Officer - HORIBA, Ltd., Japan, President - HORIBA India, spoke about the role of innovation and technology in improving the diagnosis and management of various diseases. He said, "Everything comes under regulation, but regulation should not stifle innovation. We need to leverage the latest technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and molecular diagnostics, to enhance the accuracy, speed, and affordability of testing. We also need to collaborate with the public and private sectors, as well as the civil society, to ensure the accessibility and availability of these technologies to the masses."

Concluding the session Sarma added, "The discussion on medical ethics highlights the need for continual adaptation to regulatory changes. The NMC Regulations of 2023, despite being in abeyance, highlight the evolving landscape of medical practice in India. As stakeholders await clarity, it is imperative to uphold ethical standards and patient-centric care. We are optimistic about forthcoming amendments to the NMC Regulations, which are expected to promote transparency and accountability in the healthcare sector."

The NHWIC-2024 is a platform for health writers and influencers to learn from the experts and share their perspectives on various health issues.

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