A working party led by the Royal College of Physicians has issued a report looking at ways to rebalance the relationship between medicine and industry. One of the significant recommendations in the report is that there should be an end to the supply of free gifts to health professionals.
Within the UK pharmaceutical companies are, albeit within strict regimes, able to give small promotional gifts which are relevant to a physician's work. Examples have included pens, notepads and other low cost branded materials.
Additionally, pharmaceutical companies have been able to pay for or contribute to the travel and accommodation costs of physician's attending sponsored educational meetings within reason.
The published report has highlighted this activity and has recommended that it should cease. The report has made this recommendation on the basis that doctors can "become dependent on [the pharmaceutical industry's] gift culture".
Commentators in support of the reports finding believe that withdrawing the gift culture should help physicians avoid ethical difficulties or facing allegations of impropriety through the influence of gifts.