Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


No more free lunches

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 29 May 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1155

Rapid Response:

Bullying of the companies

Dear Sir & colleagues:

I am not against drug companies and a flashlight pen that once in a
while they can give me as a gift; I am against the novel model of
blackmail that has currently taken place. One of these models is a kind of
a “friend´s club” from a milk-formula company from the USA; this exclusive
membership is only for “high ranking doctors” (they rank them) with a lot
of private practice. And maybe has its advantages, like free all-inclusive
trips to the best paediatric meetings around the world. Perhaps this is
not unethical at all… but what I do consider unethical is the bullying and
blackmail (literally) from the drug representatives if the “member”
decides to recommend another milk formula for his patients... at that
moment, they discharge the member and retrieve all the help and support
that was once “awarded”. This, of course, has several implications, like
the wrath of the ex-member and the sad and unethical behaviour of
“applicants” to the club who are yearning for the free trips and other
gifts (I have to admit, they are good at it).
Nobody, in an economic interest, can dictate a treatment or recommendation
to a patient from a doctor. For me, this is degrading the image of our
Sadly, but true, the unethical behaviour of some drug companies exists
around the world.

Competing interests:
I am not in one of these clubs, an I truly hope never will.

Competing interests: No competing interests

26 May 2004
Carlos Cuello
Av. Morones Prieto 3000 pte 64710 Monterrey, Mexico