Giving and receiving of gifts between pharmaceutical companies and medical specialists in Australia

7 Aug 2006

This study by P. M. McNeill and others investigated the 'gift-relationship' between pharmaceutical companies and doctors. A high percentage of specialists received offers of food (96%), items for the office (94%), personal gifts (51%) and journals or textbooks (50%). Most specialists were invited to product launches, symposia or educational events (75–84%) and 52% received offers of travel to conferences. A high proportion of offers were accepted (66–79%) except invitations to product launches (49%), sponsored symposia (53%) and offers of travel that included partners (27%). Fifteen per cent of specialists requested financial support from pharmaceutical companies for activities and items, including conferences, travel, educational activities, salaries and donations to specific funds. The study outlined guidelines on gifts from pharmaceutical companies and differing standards applying to gifts and grants for travel. We found that, although most gifts and requests for support complied with professional and pharmaceutical industry guidelines, some – including personal gifts, tickets to sporting events, entertainment and travel expenses for specialists' partners – did not.

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