On the occasion of the silver jubilee of its enactment, the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 was commemorated in Kochi at a function organized on the 24th of December by the Partnership for Safe Medicines – India.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. K.V. Thomas, Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, said that there are currently proposed amendments to the Act being evaluated by a parliamentary standing committee, notably the need for reformation of the dispute resolution process.
Mr. Thomas addressed concerns that doctors may over prescribe medications and that spurious medications are infiltrating the Indian market. The minister drew attention also to dubious advertisements that make false claims and said that in the interests of consumer protection, there is a need for a fair amount of self-regulation by the media and advertisement agencies.
Yet another salient consumer issue in the field of medicine is that of court scrutiny of medical practitioners, which forces doctors to cover their bets and raises the costs of patient care. Dr. P.V. George, the National President of the Indian Medical Association, who also addressed the meeting, said doctors were being forced to practice “defensive medicine.” He said further that many patients were not satisfied if doctors prescribed simple medicines. He wanted that attitude to change. Dr. George drew the attention of the gathering also to the menace of spurious and substandard drugs in the market.
Mr. Bejon Misra, Founder and Director-General of the Partnership for Safe Medicines – India, said that safe and quality medicines need to be made accessible to all. Mr. Misra, a noted consumer activist, voiced a broader concern with putting an end to the exploitation of consumers in general.
Other notables who addressed the meet include Hibi Eden, MLA; Manoj Parida, Joint Secretary in the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, and Ranga Iyer, Advisor, India Health Progress.