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Pharmaceutical companies frequently give practicing physicians and physicians-in-training an assortment of free “gifts,” ranging from pens to stethoscopes to continuing medical education. In an ideal world, these gifts would not compromise, or even seem to compromise, physicians’ decision-making. Unfortunately, as we live in a non-perfect world, this paper examines how physicians have been shown to perceive such gifts, the pharmaceutical companies’ position regarding these gifts, what the theory of gift-giving and gift-receiving tells us about this behavior, and what the future may hold as healthcare becomes more transparent.



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