Drug reps and the academic medical center: A case for management rather than prohibition

Academic Article


  • Academic physicians and bioethicists are increasingly voicing objections to "drug rep" detailing. Leaders in academic medical centers are considering proposals to ban the small gifts of detailing within their walls. Such bans would be a mistake, as the small gifts are unlikely to act as bribes and do not create unacceptable conflicts of interest for physicians. Drug rep detailing does influence physician behavior, but this influence has not been shown to be harmful. Calls for a ban are premised on empirical evidence for harm that is inconclusive at best, and emerging literature in economics suggests that detailing may well be socially beneficial. A preponderance of harm over benefit is not, however, the primary source of the animus against detailing, which stems from moral considerations that are independent of its social consequences. However, pharmaceutical advertising, including detailing, is a morally legitimate aspect of the world of medical practice that we in academic medicine ought to be preparing our trainees to encounter and properly sift. © 2008 by The Johns Hopkins University Press.
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  • Huddle TS
  • Start Page

  • 251
  • End Page

  • 260
  • Volume

  • 51
  • Issue

  • 2