Author + information
- Rob Restuccia⁎ (, )
- David J. Rothman,
- Susan Chimonas and
- Marcia Hams
- ↵⁎Executive Director, The Prescription Project, 30 Winter Street, 10th Floor, Boston, Massachusetts 02108
We were pleased that your recent editorial “Your Soul for a Pen?” (1) explored an issue of paramount importance for medicine today. Aggressive marketing to physicians has created real and perceived conflicts of interest and casts doubt on the appropriateness of treatment choices. The editorial observes, and we concur, that lavish gifts with no educational component must be eliminated and that gifts of any size erode public trust in the medical community. The evidence for these points is overwhelming; we, too, are aware of the research showing that even small gifts can affect prescribing behavior. We also agree that drug companies would not dispense token gifts unless they had impact.
We were, therefore, surprised and dismayed that the editorial went on to maintain that physicians are able to resist the influence of gifts. Gifts do set off powerful psychosocial dynamics, promoting a felt need, conscious or unconscious, to reciprocate. No less important, gifts serve as an entrée to physicians’ offices so that drug reps can promote their products.
For these reasons, The Prescription Project is working to promote policies that more effectively govern financial ties between the medical profession and industry. These include a ban on gifts. Ensuring that physician-industry relationships are free of conflicts of interest and that physicians base their prescribing decisions on accurate and unbiased information is essential to sound medical practice and public confidence in the profession.
- American College of Cardiology Foundation