Letters to the Editors

September 9, 2002

Is it wrong to accept freebies from detail reps?

 

Letters To The Editors

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Is it wrong to accept freebies from detail reps?

I've been chairman of continuing education at our hospital for more than 30 years, putting on a CME breakfast program every other Thursday. I've also organized the weeklong summer CME program for the North Carolina chapter of the Academy of Family Practice and other CME events around the state. With this experience, I feel I've learned how to separate the CME baloney from the worthwhile.

And that's what I do when attending pharmaceutical-industry-sponsored CME events or when accepting the little freebies the drug reps leave at my office. It allows me—regardless of Marianne Dekker Materra's criticism of such offerings in her editorial, "Don't be the devil in the details," [June 7]—to enjoy the "perks" that come my way, even the junky items that end up in the trash can. I especially appreciate invitations to events where my wife and I are treated nicely, as though we are of some value in the world: the golf tournament where, after a talk on osteoporosis and some pleasant repartee with the speaker, I was spoiled for the afternoon; the CME meeting followed by a basketball game or dinner. A little bit of sugar makes the medicine go down, and it's very pleasant to receive my CME education in a luxurious setting—organized and prepared by someone else—especially after presenting my own program every two weeks, over a bowl of fruit and plate of bagels.

Ms. Mattera was quite justified in protesting excesses in pharmaceutical industry marketing: perks with no educational benefit that are only bribes to "buy" our prescriptions. Fortunately, I have never been tempted to accept one that was so blatantly doing that.

John R. Dykers, MD
Siler City, NC

As Ms. Mattera contemplated the horrors of physician guests at CME events—doctors' spouses on the golf course and kids at Dodger games—did it ever cross her mind that after long hours at the office and hospital, doctors are reluctant to spend additional time away from their families?

I make no apologies for being more inclined to attend industry-sponsored events where my family is welcome. They are my No. 1 priority.

Seyi Adegoroye, MD
Centreville, VA

The pharmaceutical industry was right to clamp down on the embarrassingly extravagant gifts, lavish meals, trips, and event tickets that physicians were only too willing to accept. What have physicians done to deserve these freebies—freebies that are paid for by our patients?

Paul Brown, MD
Waconia, MN

While physicians would like to learn about emerging drug therapies, we simply do not have time to meet with drug reps during office hours. When we are invited to attend after-hours dinners and events in order to do so, that invitation absolutely should include our spouse. My wife and I have come to recognize that there is limited free time in our medical marriage. She has accepted our very busy and sometimes frustrating lifestyle and is an integral part of my career, serving as my main connection to the business side of medicine. If she isn't included in the invitation—yet another demand on my limited time—the rep can rightly assume that I won't be accepting it.

Ronald B. Swanson, DO
Royal Palm Beach, FL

 

Edited by Liz O'Brien,
Associate Editor

 

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Letters to the Editors. Medical Economics 2002;17:8.

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