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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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Drug Companies Now Barred From Giving Doctors Free Gifts

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New pharmaceutical industry guidelines will likely stop most drug companies from handing out "swag" with corporate logo’s. The new rules bar the free distribution of pens, coffee mugs, staplers, and other office supplies to doctor’s offices. Additionally, there is a concrete ban against providing free tickets to sporting events, the theater and resort junkets.

The rules are a result of an industry wide desire to restore the public’s confidence in prescription drugs. However, the new rules are fraught with loopholes. For example, sales representatives are now prevented from providing meals at restaurants to health care professionals, but allowed to bring in catered meals as part of their sales presentations.

The strongest criticism of the new rules is that nothing is being done to curtail financial ties between the drug industry and medical professionals. Prominent physicians have received large fees for conducting research, consulting, and giving speeches that promote certain drugs to their colleagues. The new rules limit the size of the fees to the fair market value of such services, but the fair market value can be interpreted any number of ways depending on the qualifications of the individual doctor.

Without oversight and a mandatory set of regulations passed by Congress, we can only expect the drug companies to regulate themselves as well as the financial companies have done in regulating themselves. The practice of paying doctors and institutions to promote specific drugs has led to countless lawsuits that stem from medical malpractice. Doctors prescribe these drugs based on the information that comes to them from consultants and university studies that are funded by drug companies, and not based on thorough and independent analysis. As a result, the public is left to fend for itself against the greedy ambitions of the medical industry, research universities, doctors, and medical consultants.