New Delhi: The Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare (ADEH) on Wednesday said it is dismayed by the news that Dr Vipin Vashishtha, a senior paediatrician and former convenor of Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation Practices of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) has been crucified for his questioning of attempts to unethically influence of some pharma companies on the immunisation guidelines of the IAP.
“It is shocking to know that the immunization schedule approved by the duly constituted Advisory Committee was removed from the IAP’s journal – Indian Paediatrics under the influence of some office bearers of IAP who seem to be affiliated to some vaccine manufacturers. That this schedule was approved by the editorial board of the Indian Paediatrics and was published in the online edition of this journal, but was subsequently withdrawn shows the brazenness with which expert committee’s recommendations are being kept aside mostly under the influence of some vaccine manufacturers,” ADEH said in a statement.
It further said, “Dr Vashishtha’s crime was – when his individual letters to the president and others about this issue failed to elicit a response, he sent an open letter to the IAP president in which he questioned this violation of the decisions of the advisory committee and of the editorial board and asked why the two IAP members who were instrumental in this brazen violation have not submitted their declarations on Conflicts of Interest (CoI) and requested the president to provide details about their association with vaccine manufacturers.”
“It seems that some leading elements in the IAP were upset by this open letter by Dr Vashishtha sent on 16th December 2016, as this letter went to all 24,000 members of IAP. ADEH is dismayed by the intolerance of the IAP leadership as seen from the rejection of the request made by Dr Vashishtha to allow him to explain his views and action during the 54th annual conference of IAP on 20th January and that instead, he was heckled, manhandled and was later suspended not only from this Advisory Committee but also from the primary membership of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics. This is a clear instance of a despicable vengeance against a whistleblower,” said the statement.
According to ADEH, the IAP leadership should respond with facts and figures to Dr Vashishtha’s contention that IAP’s Action plans, its many Continuing Medical Education Programmes etc are being funded by vaccine manufacturers. “About the experts who decide IAP immunization guidelines, IAP should share with the public, their conflict of interest vis-a-vis vaccine manufacturers,” it said.
ADEH has also appealed IAP to make amends by withdrawing this suspension of Dr Vashishtha and by tendering an apology to him.
“It (IAP) should publish Conflict of Interest (COI) statements of its office bearers and reconsider the widespread practice in which paediatricians, instead of giving prescriptions of vaccines to parents, supply vaccinate themselves to parents to pocket hefty discounts offered to doctors by vaccine manufacturers,” said ADEH.
“The ADEH appeals to IAP to live up to the expected ethical norms of this noble profession; otherwise it will undermine its image in the eyes of the public,” the Alliance of Doctors added.
The statement is signed by Dr Yashawant Amdekar, senior paediatrician, Mumbai and past president of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (1995); Dr G S Grewal, former president, Punjab Medical Council, Ludhiana; Dr Samiran Nundy, gastrointestinal surgeon, Delhi; Dr Vandana Prasad, paediatrician, former member (child health), National Commission for Protection of Child Rights; Dr Sanjay Nagral, gastrointestinal surgeon, Mumbai and editor of Indian Journal of Medical Ethics (IJME); Dr Arun Mitra, ENT specialist and former chairperson, ethics committee, Punjab Medical Council, Ludhiana; Dr Anant Phadke, health activist and public health expert, Pune; Dr Arun Gadre and Dr Abhay Shukla, Pune based authors of Dissenting Diagnosis; Dr K V Babu, ophthalmologist and health activist, Kannur, Kerala; Dr Shakeel Ur Rehman, physician and member of Indian doctors for Peace and Development, Patna amongst others.