Want a free pharma latte? Show your ID
By Tracy Staton
You've heard that there's no free lunch, but no free coffee? One of the trends noticed at last weekend's American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting was careful policing of just who took free lattes. No Vermonters were allowed at the Pfizer coffee machine, thanks to that state's strict rules on pharma gifts for physicians--and no Minnesotans, either.
And those doctors who did collect a cup of joe? They'll see their names on the Pfizer website, a company spokesman promised Reuters. "Any gift, even a cup of coffee, is posted on our Pfizer website for disclosure purposes and to provide complete clarity."
One international drugmaker even limited coffee handouts to doctors with international ID badges. A woman stood guard, in fear that the FDA's handout police would come calling.
It's a far cry from the ASCO exhibit floor of the past, where doctors could pick up all sorts of drugmaker tchotchkes. Apparently, pharma companies are really taking the new PhRMA gift guidelines seriously. In some views, too seriously. "This is getting to the point of absurdity," a deputy CMO at the American Cancer Society remarked to Reuters.
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