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:


I feel that trying to distance drug companies from doctors is as hard as teaching an old dog new trick.

I do appreciated that we need to be aware of the implications of being influenced by drug companies. But, just imagine how boring medical life will be without any drug company influence in present medical profession.

1. Medical journals will be very boring with no pictures in them (pictures of adverts). Printed on cheapest possible paper. ( so very few people who are addicted to reading journal will only read them ).

2. Subscription prices of these medical journals will definitely go up as they won’t get funding from pharmaceutical companies. ( so very few of us can read them )

3. The number of journals which are being published might come down. (As they wont get money from authors for publishing their articles )

4. There will be hardly any lunch OR dinner meetings. ( because hospitals will not fund them, neither regional PCTs will fund them. Which will affect social interaction among doctors, who meet at these meetings, they might get depressed! )

5. As the number of educational meetings will reduce, doctors will struggle to find required PGEA /CME points / hours for their appraisals / PDP /assessment.

6. As there will be no free lunches, doctors might end up becoming underweight after eating hospital canteen food OR might need to leave hospital for lunch, so fewer hours for patient care.

7. As there will be very few speakers / professors / consultants who teach / speak at meetings for charity. It will curtail down drastically the culture of educational teaching. ( seriously risking CPD / updating with latest medicines in market )

8. If drug companies are not funding any new research, than there will be very few new studies which will be published. (DOH might need to seriously consider increasing funding for medical research /audit and for CME, which eventually might increase the tax everybody pays!! – like you and me ( so govt might have more say in research if not drug companies and funding might vary on ruling party in power!)

9. Studies which will be done will be small due to funding problem. ( so might end up in prescribing some medicines which are less effective ! ?ethical )

10. If there are no drug representatives, than GP’s might end up in seeing only those who are sick. They will be denied to refresh their mood OR a small break of seeing some smiling faces in between their surgery. (this might contribute to increasing stress in GP’s )

11. As there will be no free lunches and no free pens, than doctors monthly budget will increase for spending on lunches and stationery items required for doing NHS job.

12. GP’s who participate in drug trials in surgeries (some consultants in hospitals), their annual budget will be hit if the distance between doctors and drug companies.

13. If holiday conferences sponsored by drug companies are stopped, means, physicians may not get their deserved break, from nerve racking NHS work. ( might increase stress / depression / early retirement ! )

These are only 13(lucky) reasons (there are some more) for why we should not distance ourselves from drug companies. Until and unless we are aware that pharmaceutical companies are not saints OR doing charity work, they are there to push their product. Than it is up to us to decide which anti-depressant and which analgesic to prescribe.

Competing interests: Have attended scores of drug company sponsored lunch and dinner meetings.

Competing interests: No competing interests

17 June 2004
GP - salaried