The Medical Council of India (MCI) has suspended the president and the secretary of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) for endorsing food products in violation of the code of ethics and MCI regulations.
The names of IMA chief G Samaram and secretary Dharam Prakash have been removed from the medical register for six months, during which they cannot practice medicine.
The decision to suspend the duo was taken at the MCI's ethics committee meeting on 9 November. The council had also issued censure letters to all IMA executive members, warning them against repeating these practices.
The IMA had signed contracts with Pepsi India and Dabur to endorse products in exchange for money. It had signed a Rs2.25-crore contract with Pepsico, allowing the use of the IMA logo for the company's Tropicana fruit juice and Quaker oats, for three years ending 2011.
''It was decided that in return for IMA endorsements, Pepsi would pay for three years to the association and spend money for IMA's continuing medical education programmes. Pepsi's financial commitment will be Rs 1.56 crore for three years. Dabur would pay Rs23 lakh a year to the IMA for Odomos endorsement for three years,'' the Indian Express reported.
An IMA central committee member K V Babu had complained to MCI in 2008 and followed it up with RTI applications that brought out details of the endorsements.