I can understand wanting transparency regarding the gifts that pharmaceutical reps give doctors, particularly those of the more expensive variety, but this is ridiculous:
At least nine states are considering bills that would require drugmakers to publicly report how much they and their sales representatives give to doctors, hospitals and pharmacists each year. A few proposals go further: A bill under debate in Massachusetts would ban all gifts to medical professionals from the drug industry.
“If a doctor needs a Caribbean vacation or a mug or a pen, he or she is probably not very successful and needs to be in another business,” says state Sen. Mark Montigny, D-Mass., who sponsored the bill.
Geez, he sure is lumping a lot together there. I’d fully agree that accepting a Caribbean vacation (or, in actuality anything costing more than maybe $20) is probably almost always questionable. I can see banning such gifts. But a freakin’ pen? (Of course, the thought of politicians lecturing doctors about accepting small gifts from the pharmaceutical industry caused my irony meter to short-circuit and catch fire.)
I guess that’s the end of one of the time-honored tradition that I and other doctors like to pursue at large national meetings: Trying to obtain pens and other tchtotchkes from drug rep booths without actually having to speak to the pharmaceutical reps themselves for more than a few seconds at most (or, better yet, without having to speak with them at all).
Worse, could this mean the end of my yearly EneMan calendars and Christmas decorations? That could be disastrous for this blog…
Fortunately, I think they’re probably worth less than $10, certainly worth less than $20.