Pharmaceutical representative giving gifts to doctors to promote their company's medicines
Q: In view of the heated competition between pharmaceutical companies, their representatives give doctors gifts such as a pen on which the product name is printed, a watch, a cassette, etc. In return for such a gift, doctors prescribe the drug to patients. What is the ruling on doctors accepting these gifts? Are they gifts or bribes? It should also be noted that there is a department in the company that is dedicated to promotion. If a doctor prescribes the drug correctly only when needed, may he accept such a gift? Or would he be sinful? Please, provide evidence.Sometimes,
the company gives the doctor a specific gift in return for prescribing (Part No. 23; Page No. 571) a specific amount of their drugs. Is this a bribe,
i.e. specifying the amount and the return? Please, provide evidence. Sometimes, the company gives him a gift in return for prescribing a certain drug without specifying any particular amount. If a doctor prescribes the drug rightfully when needed only in return for such a gift, would he be sinful? Please, provide evidence.Sometimes drugs are equally effective but they are produced by a number of companies with different brands, so the doctor prescribes the brand of the representative who visits him more frequently and gives him gifts from his company claiming that these effective drugs are not equal to those who are not effective. What is the ruling? Is promoting a product in this manner permissible? Please, provide evidence.
It is not permissible for a doctor to accept gifts from pharmaceutical companies, as it is a kind of prohibited bribe, even if they are called gifts or whatever. In fact, names do not change facts. Moreover, such gifts may make him unfairly biased toward the company that gives him gifts over any other company, which causes harm to the other companies.
Q 3: My question is related to working as advertising representatives of pharmaceutical companies. Nowadays, some or most of these companies promote products through gifts or bribes. They give gifts to doctors so that they will prescribe drugs produced by these companies. Moreover, representatives fear for their positions in the companies if they do not behave as such. Furthermore, many doctors will not prescribe (Part No. 23; Page No. 572) drugs for patients if they are not given gifts, and will only prescribe the drugs produced by those who give them gifts. Therefore, reps are forced to compete with other companies as far as gift giving is concerned. What is the ruling on this? Are they considered cases of necessity because they fear that they might lose their job, especially when we take into consideration financial obligations they have to fulfill?
A company rep who gives gifts to doctors to promote the company drugs over those of other companies is regarded as the intermediary between the one who gives the bribe and the one who takes it. The Prophet (peace be upon him) cursed the three parties in the Hadith:
Allah has cursed the briber, the bribed, and the mediator between them.
May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.