Gifts to Physicians from the Pharmaceutical Industry: An Ethical Analysis

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Gifts to physicians by the pharmaceutical industry pose numerous ethical questions. Although individual patients and physicians may benefit financially and educationally from certain gifts, the risk of bias resulting from such gifts makes them ethically challenging. After a brief description of the nature and scope of the practice of gift giving, this article examines major arguments for and against this practice. We then review the development of guidelines by professional societies, trade organizations, and government agencies. We conclude with a list of summary recommendations designed to help individual physicians, educators, and administrators engage in careful reflection and analysis and make sound ethical decisions about acceptance of gifts.