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November 19, 1997

Personal Use of Drug Samples by Physicians and Office Staff

Author Affiliations

Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs American Medical Association Chicago, Ill

JAMA. 1997;278(19):1568. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550190032026

To the Editor.  —Dr Westfall and colleagues1 raise some important concerns. Their article concludes that physicians and office staff frequently take pharmaceutical companies' free drug samples for personal and family use, and that this use of samples constitutes a substantial gift from pharmaceutical companies to physicians and office staff.The Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs of the American Medical Association Assistant General Counsel has addressed some of these concerns in opinions that can be found in the 1996-1997 edition of the Code of Medical Ethics.2 Opinion 8.19, "Self-treatment or Treatment of Immediate Family Members," provides that "Physicians generally should not treat themselves or members of their immediate families" and states that "[e]xcept in emergencies, it is not appropriate for physicians to write prescriptions for controlled substances for themselves or immediate family members." Opinion 8.061, "Gifts to Physicians From Industry," states that "the use of drug samples for personal or family