The piles of freebies drug companies lavish on doctors will go the way of the VHS tape as of tomorrow, the New York Times reports. The industry, facing criticism that it is trying to unduly influence doctors' decisions, has voluntarily decided to stop handing out pens, stethoscope holders, bandages, T-shirts, mugs, and the many other branded giveaways that surround physicians.
Proponents of the ban say the race car-like branding of just about everything to be found in a doctor's office had gotten out of hand and may have been subliminally influencing physicians. Doctors, however—some of whom have built up vast collections of freebies—are rolling their eyes. "It seems goofy to us," one obstetrician said. "We like getting our pens." Skeptics say the ban does nothing to curb the billions of dollars spent by drug firms to influence doctors in more substantial ways.