Tax officials start probing money and gifts being dished out to doctors

KARACHI: The tax department is obtaining information about doctors, medical practitioners and medical consultants from Pakistan Medical Association, autonomous government hospitals and medical colleges, private sector hospitals, provincial health departments and pharmaceutical companies to bring their actual earnings in the documented regime.

A notification was issued by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) last month addressing the commissioner inland revenue in Karachi showed a list of 30 private and public hospitals operating in the city to collect data of all health practitioners working in these facilities so their provided details would be cross-matched with the claims they made while filing withholding statements.

Wide difference in the income/revenues so determined and declarations by the doctors would lead to issuance of notices.

The tax authorities have started probing affairs of doctors and physicians, as a campaign is underway to document the actual revenues and earnings of professionals including doctors, lawyers etc,.

Pharmaceutical companies spend millions of rupees in cash and kind on doctors to encourage doctors to prescribe pricey brand-name drugs and devices pushed by sales representatives.

An official at a leading pharmaceutical manufacturer said that no official letter had been received from FBR so far, but sales and marketing departments of some companies had been contacted by tax officials seeking details of money and gifts being dished out to doctors. “Off course the pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to provide these details as this would impact pout relationship with doctors and they will stop prescribing our products,” the official said.

A senior marketing manager of another local pharmaceutical manufacturer said that they were making monthly payments to certain big names, and now these payments would be made in cash as per the demand of the doctors.

The official said the ‘cut’ of doctors made a significant portion of the companies’ marketing budget, which increased the medicine prices. “All these expenses are accounted for when a company approached the drug regulatory company for price fixation of the drugs,” the official said.

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