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Research and Sponsored Programs

East Tennessee State University

Interactions with Pharmaceutical Companies

Ethical Guidelines

Table of Contents


     General Rules





The relationship between industries and the medical profession is under increased scrutiny.  While pharmaceutical and medical device companies make many meaningful contributions to medical education, there is potential for abuse and inappropriate benefit to the medical profession.  It is important to address the public perception of this relationship, especially in graduate medical education.  Accordingly, the following ethical guidelines will govern East Tennessee State University's Graduate Medical Education.


  1. No industry name, logo should be visible on drug containers, equipment, etc., in patient care areas.  Pens and memo pads are not inappropriate.
  2. Residents should not attend purely social events funded by industry unless sponsored by the institution.  Industry funding for regularly scheduled institutional events (e.g., graduation, orientation) are acceptable, but no industry presentations should be allowed.
  3. Release of resident information lists to industry by the College of Medicine or individual departments should be done carefully, and on a case-by-case decision, approved by the appropriate institutional official (Chair, Dean, etc.).

B.     GIFTS

Gifts to physicians from the medical industry should be:

  1. Related to healthcare
  2. Entail a benefit to patients
  3. Should not be of substantial value (less than $100), except text books. 

Acceptable gifts:

  1. Textbooks, when distributed by the department.
  2. Modest meals (associated with education), value less than $50/person.
  3. Pens, notepads, desk items
  4.  Drug samples for a physician and his/her family, if derived from supplies available to other patients.  Inappropriate for a physician to request drug samples directly from a drug representative.           

Unacceptable gifts:

  1. Entertainment tickets
  2. Sporting events tickets
  3. Hunting, fishing trips
  4. Ski trips
  5. Golf outings

C.     MEALS

Meals provided by medical industry:

  1. Gathering must be primarily dedicated to education, science, and should be of modest value (less than $50/person).
  2. Main incentive to meet is education.
  3. Topic of the meeting, any speakers, must be approved by the institution, not industry.
  4. No formal presentation by the industry representative.
  5. Sponsoring representative/company may be recognized.
  6. Unobtrusive display by the representative/company is permissible.
  7. Accepting food not related to healthcare/education is inappropriate.
  8. Outside hospital dinners with a speaker selected by the industry representative is inappropriate unless: 1) department approves speaker, and; 2) cost of meal is modest (less than $50/person).
  9. Meals for clinic staff/doctors appropriate only if related to a planned meeting, presentation, etc., of an educational nature.


Financial support of conference speakers is appropriate if:

  1. Money is given to the department, or organizing group.
  2. The speaker and topics are selected by the institution, department, etc.

Industry funds paid directly to resident physicians for travel, food, lodging to attend meetings is inappropriate.  Grants to the institution to support such educational travel is permissible.

Industry travel funds for resident physicians presenting at meetings is allowed - a modest honorarium may be appropriate.  Such travel should be approved by the department Chair.

Industry may provide funds for residents to attend educational conferences, if the money is given to the institution and the institution selects the residents to attend the meeting.

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