Nov 1999

The Value of Industry Gifts to Physicians

Audiey Kao, MD, PhD
Virtual Mentor. 1999;1(3):21-22. doi: 10.1001/virtualmentor.1999.1.3.dykn1-9911.
  • A pen, of the kind that drug companies commonly distribute to physicians, can cost as little as 25 cents if you purchase 10,000 of them from a product catalog. 
  • A disposable penlight, another gift commonly distributed, costs approximately $2.50 at university bookstores. 
  • The average cost of a dinner at a 4-star restaurant such as Charlie Trotter's in Chicago, is $100 per person, excluding drinks and gratuity.
  • Physicians who are more aware of guidelines about gifts from industry are more likely to view such gifts as inappropriate [1-13].
  • The AMA's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs' Policy E-8.061 provides specific guidelines about what are appropriate and inappropriate gifts to physicians from industry. (See also Addendum to E-8.061)


  1. Gibbons RV, Landry FJ, Blouch DL, Williams FK, Lucey CR, Kroenke K. A comparison of physicians' and patients' attitudes toward pharmaceutical industry gifts. J Gen Int Med. 1998;13(3):151-154.
  2. Hopper JA, Speece MW, Musial JL. Effects of an educational intervention on residents' knowledge and attitudes toward interactions with pharmaceutical representatives. J Gen Intern Med. 1997;12(10):639-642.
  3. Madhavan S, Amonkar MM, Elliott D, Burke K, Gore P. The gift relationship between pharmaceutical companies and physicians: an exploratory survey of physicians. J Clin Pharm Ther. 1997;22(3):207-215.
  4. Beary JF III. Pharmaceutical marketing has real and proven value. Characteristics of materials distributed by drug companies: four points of view. J Gen Intern Med. 1996;11(10):635-636.
  5. Stryer D, Bero LA. Characteristics of materials distributed by drug companies. An evaluation of appropriateness. J Gen Intern Med. 1996;11(10):575-583.
  6. Wolfe SM. Why do American drug companies spend more than $12 billion a year pushing drugs? Is it education or promotion? Characteristics of materials distributed by drug companies: four points of view. J Gen Intern Med. 1996;11(10):637-639.
  7. Rosner F. Pharmaceutical industry support for continuing medical education programs: a review of current ethical guidelines. Mt Sinai J Med. 1995;62(6):427-430.
  8. Mainous AG, Hueston WJ, Rich EC. Patient perceptions of physician acceptance of gifts from the pharmaceutical industry. Arch Fam Med. 1995;4(4):335-339.
  9. Beary JF. Inappropriate drug prescribing. JAMA. 1995;276(6):455-456.
  10. Thomson AN, Craig BJ, Barham PM. Attitudes of general practitioners in New Zealand to pharmaceutical representatives. Br J Gen Pract. 1994;44(382):220-223.
  11. Patel JC. The gifts and trinkets to doctors: current practice in India and global trends in pharmaceutical industry. Indian J Med Sci. 1994;48(1):20-30.
  12. Reeder M, Dougherty J, White LJ. Pharmaceutical representatives and emergency medicine residents: a national survey. Ann Emerg Med. 1993;22(10):1593-1596.
  13. Lurie N, Rich EC, Simpson DE, Meyer J, Schiedermayer DL, Goodman JL, McKinney WP. Pharmaceutical representatives in academic medical centers: interaction with faculty and housestaff. J Gen Intern Med. 1990;5(3):240-243.


Virtual Mentor. 1999;1(3):21-22.



The viewpoints expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.