Drug company gifts not proper, whether sterling silver or stethoscope

LETTER — Posted March 28, 2005

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Regarding "Iowa practice draws notice for its 'no-gift' policy" (Article, Feb. 14): A gift is a gift is a gift. That's what I say to Jeff Trewhitt, spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Assn. of America. Mr. Trewhitt says, "A sterling silver serving tray is not appropriate, but a medical dictionary or stethoscope would be." No, Mr. Trewhitt, it is still not appropriate.

Dorland's Medical Dictionary goes for $49.95 at amazon.com, and a decent stethoscope costs more than $100. If I accept those gifts, an innate sense of human decency compels me to give the drug rep more time on the next visit -- and they are counting on this.

I do not go to drug-company-sponsored dinners at fancy restaurants because I want the freedom to tell any visiting drug rep that I do not have time to listen to a spiel. I would rather get my information from neutral sources.

Drug reps leave us samples of expensive brand-name drugs. There's no point in giving samples of these medications for chronic use (e.g. antihypertensives) to the patient who can't afford them once the samples are gone. Why don't the reps leave samples of hydrochlorothiazide, amoxicillin or other useful dirt-cheap generic medications? Simple: There is no money in it for them!

M. Dean Havron Jr., MD, Winchester, Va.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/03/28/edlt0328.htm.

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