Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Yankee Doodling

No gifts, please, we’re doctors

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 07 May 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1835
  1. Douglas Kamerow, chief scientist, RTI International, and associate editor, BMJ
  1. dkamerow{at}

    New recommendations from the US Institute of Medicine are broad and deep

    When I began medical school in 1974 I was a fanatic about drug industry gifts to students. The drug companies gave us all manner of tools for doctors—reflex hammers, stethoscopes, the works, nicely branded with their logos—and I was one of the few who rejected them all. In particular I remember a set of beautifully illustrated books on anatomy, or maybe it was histology, that were actually required texts for one of our courses. I couldn’t believe that the school would allow what I considered advertising into the curriculum.

    Time passed, and I became less and less vigilant. By the time I was a resident I was enjoying pizza parties sponsored by the “detail men.” As a young GP I was happy to prowl the exhibits at meetings and pick up the ever more impressive gifts to be had for listening to a pitch for their latest blockbuster: a computer mouse, an engraved pen, lots of fancy small flashlights, and plenty of samples for personal use. The “detail men” were …

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