Investigation Launched into Unethical Pharma Scheme by Government Agencies

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Government Agencies Form Joint Committee to Investigate Unethical Marketing Practices of Pharmaceutical Companies

Three government agencies in the Philippines have recently announced the formation of a joint committee to investigate the alleged unethical marketing practices of pharmaceutical companies. The committee, composed of the Department of Health (DOH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Board of Medicine of the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC), aims to address concerns raised during a recent senate investigation.

The investigation was prompted by the discovery that a pharmaceutical distributor, Bell-Kenz Pharma Inc., was employing a “multi-level marketing” setup to incentivize healthcare professionals to prescribe their medicines in exchange for commissions. This practice raised ethical concerns and potentially compromised the integrity of the medical profession.

According to Albert Domingo, the acting assistant secretary and spokesperson for the Department of Health, the joint committee was formed after a meeting between Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa, FDA Director General Samuel Zacate, and PRC Medicine Board Chairman Zenaida Antonio. Representatives from the Philippine Medical Association’s Commission on Ethics and the Philippine Hospital Association were also present at the meeting.

The primary goal of the joint committee is to streamline the investigation process and ensure that all allegations raised during the senate hearing are thoroughly addressed. Domingo emphasized that the committee’s formation is crucial in protecting the integrity of the medical profession and holding accountable those who have violated relevant laws, rules, and regulations.

In a separate statement, FDA spokesperson Pamela Sevilla highlighted the importance of identifying the responsible agencies and departments even before the issue gained media attention. Sevilla acknowledged the complexity of the investigation, particularly in a multilevel marketing scheme where multiple parties may be involved. However, she assured the public that the committee will diligently investigate and determine possible sanctions for any violations found.

The joint committee also plans to seek inputs and comments from various stakeholders, including the Philippine Medical Association, the Philippine Pharmacists Association, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Given the nature of the multilevel marketing scheme involved, their expertise and insights will be invaluable in understanding the extent of the issue and formulating appropriate actions.

Additionally, the committee’s legal advisers will explore ways to protect whistleblowers who may come forward with valuable information. Whistleblower protection is crucial in encouraging individuals to report any fraudulent or unethical practices within the pharmaceutical industry, ultimately contributing to the overall integrity of the healthcare system.

Sevilla urged the public to come forward and provide information regarding any schemes involving pharmaceutical companies, emphasizing that the committee’s initial focus will be on Bell-Kenz. By encouraging public participation and cooperation, the committee aims to gather a comprehensive understanding of the issue and take necessary actions to address the unethical marketing practices.

Ensuring Ethical Marketing Practices and Protecting the Medical Profession

The formation of the joint committee reflects the government’s commitment to ensuring ethical marketing practices within the pharmaceutical industry and safeguarding the integrity of the medical profession. By bringing together key government agencies and stakeholders, the committee aims to address the concerns raised during the senate investigation and take appropriate actions to hold accountable those responsible for any violations.

Unethical marketing practices in the pharmaceutical industry can have far-reaching consequences. They not only compromise the trust between healthcare professionals and patients but also undermine the credibility of the entire healthcare system. It is imperative to investigate and address these practices promptly and effectively to maintain the highest standards of patient care and professional ethics.

The involvement of the Department of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Board of Medicine of the Professional Regulations Commission in the joint committee demonstrates a comprehensive approach to tackling the issue. These agencies play crucial roles in regulating and overseeing the pharmaceutical industry, ensuring the safety and efficacy of medicines, and upholding professional standards among healthcare practitioners.

Collaboration with relevant professional associations, such as the Philippine Medical Association and the Philippine Pharmacists Association, further strengthens the committee’s efforts. These associations bring specialized knowledge and expertise to the table, enabling a more nuanced understanding of the challenges posed by unethical marketing practices. Their input will be vital in formulating appropriate actions and implementing effective measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

The inclusion of the Securities and Exchange Commission in the committee’s consultations highlights the need to address the multilevel marketing aspect of the issue. Multilevel marketing schemes can be complex, involving multiple layers of participants and potential legal implications. By involving the Securities and Exchange Commission, the committee ensures a comprehensive examination of the issue and the identification of any financial irregularities that may arise from such schemes.

Protecting whistleblowers is another crucial aspect of the committee’s work. Whistleblowers play a vital role in exposing fraudulent and unethical practices, often at great personal risk. By prioritizing whistleblower protection, the committee aims to create an environment where individuals feel safe to come forward and provide valuable information. This protection not only encourages transparency but also acts as a deterrent for potential wrongdoers, ultimately contributing to the overall integrity of the healthcare system.


The formation of a joint committee comprising the Department of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Board of Medicine of the Professional Regulations Commission marks a significant step towards addressing the alleged unethical marketing practices of pharmaceutical companies in the Philippines. By collaborating with relevant stakeholders and seeking public input, the committee aims to thoroughly investigate the issue, determine possible sanctions, and protect the integrity of the medical profession.

Unethical marketing practices have the potential to erode trust in the healthcare system and compromise patient care. It is crucial to address these practices promptly and effectively to maintain the highest standards of professionalism and ethical conduct within the pharmaceutical industry. The committee’s efforts, supported by various government agencies and professional associations, demonstrate a commitment to upholding these standards and ensuring the well-being of patients and healthcare professionals alike.

Source: The Manila Times

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