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Medical Technology Industry Enacts Gift Ban


On the heels of newly established pharmaceutical marketing restrictions, the world’s largest medical technology association is now also recommending limited use of promotional products among its member companies. The Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) recently changed its code of ethics to prohibit the gifting of non-educational items to health care professionals. “We have worked very diligently on our ethics code for about 10 months, with the help of 80 attorneys from 40 member companies, representing small and large companies from every product sector,” says Debbie Harrison, spokesperson for AdvaMed.

In its revised code, which will go into effect on July 1, AdvaMed is encouraging companies to avoid the gifting of any branded promotional items. The code specifically lists pens, notepads and mugs as examples of promotional products deemed to have no educational value. However, similar to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) code, the AdvaMed code does allow the gifting of items like patient kits. “I don’t think the PhRMA code is justified and now for others to be following suit doesn’t make sense to me,” says Mike Grossman, vice president of sales for Imagemark (asi/230137). “I was in the health care industry for 17 years. I saw that promotional products were useful to patients and staff. There’s no real harm in them.”

AdvaMed and its predecessor, the Health Industry Manufacturers Association, have existed since 1974. AdvaMed includes firms that produce a variety of medical equipment, ranging from tongue depressors to software to MRI machines. Hundreds of companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Bausch & Lomb and Texas Instruments, belong to the association. The PhRMA and AdvaMed ethics codes are strictly voluntary guidelines, meaning member companies may choose not to comply.

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