The company we keep: Why physicians should refuse to see pharmaceutical representatives

Howard Brody

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Whether physicians ought to interact with pharmaceutical sales representatives (reps) is a question worthy of careful ethical analysis. The issue presents a challenge to both professional integrity and time management. Empirical data suggest that interactions with pharmaceutical reps increase the chances that the physician will ad contrary to duties owed to the patient. Ideally, a physician might both interact with reps and also do the research necessary to counteract the commercial bias in their messages. But a physician who actually did that research would, in turn, be devoting a good deal of time that might better be spent in other activities. The counter-argument, that one is obligated to see representatives to obtain free samples to best serve one's patients, can be shown in most practice settings not to be compelling. Physicians ought to refuse to visit with representatives as a matter of both professional integrity and sensible time management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-85
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of family medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Drug industry
  • Ethics
  • Health care delivery
  • Health services research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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