Have you ever looked around your doctor’s office and seen all the things printed with names of pharmaceutical companies and their products? That’s about to stop.
As of Thursday, January 1, 2009, doctors will no longer receive free gifts from pharmaceutical companies. For years, big pharma has peppered doctors’ offices with free promotional items – pens, pads (including prescription pads), tongue depressors, mugs, soap dispensers, T-shirts, etc. – all of which, of course, are emblazoned with the name of the company’s latest high-profile drug.
More and more, pharmaceutical companies have been the focus of criticism for such practices and arguably are taking the voluntary ban step as a way of blunting some of the criticism. The many comments about the article express different points of view.
So, what’s wrong with promotional items? Drug companies spend billions of dollars keeping their products in front of doctors to try to influence them to write prescriptions to us. How can patients – you and I – be sure that what we are being prescribed is necessary and appropriate for our medical condition? As long as that is happening, we should be asking questions.
Notice this is a voluntary ban on free gifts (swag). But, also note what is NOT included in the ban: free lunches and dinners, payment for consultations and free drug samples.
Read related law articles here.