Drug Makers Say Goodbye To Swag In 2009

Beginning tomorrow morning, drug companies will stop peppering doctors’ offices with branded pens, bandages, tongue depressors, stethoscopes, calipers, mugs, prescription pads, soap dispensers, and t-shirts.

What won’t stop, according to critics of the industry: free dinners, payment for consultations, or the $16 billion spent annually to hand out free drug samples:

“We have arrived at a point in the history of medicine in America where doctors have deep, deep financial ties with the drug makers and marketers,” said Allan Coukell, the director of policy for the Prescription Project, a nonprofit group in Boston working to promote evidence-based medicine.

One side-effect of the voluntary ban is that swag companies—”providers to the world’s landfills”—stand to lose around $1 billion, or about 5% of their annual income. (And you know what that is going to do to swag prices!) But hey, at least you won’t feel like you’re at a NASCAR event the next time you’re waiting on the examination table.

For a good look at the wide variety of promo items drug companies hand out, pay a visit to the Drug Rep Toys blog.

“No Mug? Drug Makers Cut Out Goodies for Doctors” [New York Times]
(Photo: Drug Rep Toys)