Hospital to ban pharma rep freebies

Free pens and notepads and magnets emblazoned with drug logos--what would a hospital be without them? It appears Pittsburgh is about to find out. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is crafting a new policy that would prohibit almost all pharma-rep freebies. Employees, docs, and med students who take the giveaways would face reprimands, fines, and loss of hospital privileges. And industry reps who flout the prohibitions could be banned from the property.

Okay, so no free ballpoints. But what about drug samples? Some critics of the draft policy point out that uninsured patients often rely on samples from their doctors. The hospital is considering a centralized sample-collection point. And it may establish a voucher program so that poor patients can get the meds they need at no charge.

Pitt's no-freebie policy is the latest in an anti-gift fervor sweeping academic medical centers across the country. Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan, for instance, requires vendors to take a class before strolling the halls, and free food and promos are banned. Vendors in clinical-procedure areas have to wear black scrubs so they're readily identifiable. Since the fashion rule went into effect, the number of reps in O.R. areas has dropped from 30 to 35 a day to some five or 10. What's next? The Scarlet P?

- read the report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Related Articles:
Top Lilly exec plays secret sales agent. Report
No freebies? No entry for pharma reps. Report
Groups plan new fight to limit pharma-doctor ties. Report
Psychiatrists getting largest pharma gifts. Report
Thinking through pharma bans. Editorial