CCP: (CCP recommends to PMDC to devise marketing guidelines for healthcare sector)

ISLAMABAD: The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) on Thursday recommended to the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), National Council for Homeopathy (NCH) and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to devise guidelines regarding the advertisements/marketing practices by medicinal and healthcare service providers, in order to stop deceptive marketing practices.

CCP gave these recommendations in its order passed in a case of deceptive marketing practices by a homeopathic practitioner Mian Liaquat Ali of Liaquat Hospital, Lahore. The order was passed by a CCP bench comprising of Ms Vadiyya Khalil, the Chairperson, Dr Joseph Wilson, Dr Shahzad Ansar, and Ikram Ul Haque Qureshi, Members.

CCP stated in the order that the guidelines must mention that the advertisements should be accurate and should not contain false claims or misrepresentations of material fact; must not create false or unjustified expectations; must make necessary disclosure if its absence would render the advertisement misleading; and, must have a reasonable basis regarding the claims.

CCP further stated that the in an era when health providers have begun to market their services aggressively, deceptive healthcare advertising poses significant risks to the public. Fraudulent claims may entice consumers to undergo costly, ineffective, and even more importantly, dangerous medical procedures, which cannot be ignored.

CCP initiated an inquiry against Al Haaj Dr. Mian Liaquat Ali of Liaquat Hospital Lahore after receiving complaints that he was allegedly involved in deceptive marketing practices through television commercial in violation of Section 10 of the Competition Act, 2010. CCP also contacted Pakistan Medical and Dental Council and College of Surgeons and Physicians in this regard.

CCP inquiry revealed that in his tv commercials, Mr. Liaquat Ali called himself a “Doctor” instead of “Homeopathic Doctor”; claimed to cure diseases like Hepatitis A, B and C, Sugar, obesity, dandruff, and vitiligo or phulbehri; assured guaranteed birth of son through his treatment, and also offered treatment to people via telephone. All of his claims without having reasonable basis were in violation of section 10 of the Act. Based on these findings, show cause notice was issued to him.

During the hearings, Mr. Liaquat Ali’s lawyer assured the Commission of making suitable alteration in the tv commercial of his client to address CCP’s concerns, but no such action was taken. On 16 January 2015, CCP issued an interim order in the matter directing the homeopathic doctor to immediately stop his deceptive tv commercial deceiving the masses through his absolute claims.

After concluding its proceedings in the case, CCP has issued an order disposing off the show cause notice issued to Al Haj Mian Liaquat Ali after he stopped airing tv commercials on all channels, filed a satisfactory written commitment with the Commission that they would comply with the statement made them during the hearing and filed a compliance report as per the directions of the Commission.

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