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October 1, 2003

Policies to Regulate Gifts to Physicians From Industry

JAMA. 2003;290(13):1776. doi:10.1001/jama.290.13.1776

In 2000, pharmaceutical companies spent $15.7 billion promoting their products, with the largest share (84%) directed toward medical professionals through commercial detailing, drug samples, and journal advertisements.1 Studies suggest that pharmaceutical promotion influences professional judgment and prescribing behavior.2 Most studies have focused on the effects of large gifts (eg, accepting money to attend or speak at educational symposia), but few well-controlled studies have assessed the long-term cumulative influence of small promotional items (eg, pens and other branded trinkets). There is still room for concern about such de minimis gifts, however, given the social science literature on gift exchange3 and self-serving bias.4