Personal Use of Drug Samples by Physicians and Office Staff

Fred Rosner, MD
JAMA. 1997;278(19):1567. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550190031022.
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To the Editor.  —Dr Westfall and colleagues1 consider the personal use of drug samples by physicians and office staff to constitute "a substantial gift from pharmaceutical companies" and that "the ethical implications... warrant further debate." Gifts to physicians from the pharmaceutical industry constitute a long-accepted tradition in the complex relationships between drug companies and the medical profession. Medical students are offered free books, free reflex hammers, free tuning forks, and a variety of other gifts. At medical conventions, physicians strolling through the exhibition halls are able to obtain gratis dozens of different items from pens to key chains, from calculators to watches, from tennis balls to floppy disks, from fresh juices to espresso coffee, and on and on.2Should these gifts be considered to constitute a bribe? Are these gifts given freely by the pharmaceutical industry with no ulterior motives? Although drug companies and biotechnology firms consider these gifts to be


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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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