One of the more impactful new PhRMA guidelines is the elimination of most gifts or premiums, commonly referred to as tchotchkes. Many are holding their breaths to see how physicians react when they discover that all they're getting at conventions is information. Marketers who judge the performance of their exhibit by the lines of physicians waiting to pick up a personalized journal, a laser pointer, or even a latte will have to look for other ways to measure success, because the unspoken quid pro quo (listen to my detail and you'll get something for your time) is officially dead.
No NothingSpecifically, the new guidelines eliminate all "gifts" and promotional giveaways to physicians that do not provide educational value to physician or patient, including reminder items like paper pads, USB drives, coffee mugs, and pens. This also includes gifts that aid in patient treatment, such as stethoscopes, thermometers, scales, and tongue depressors. (The complete PhRMA Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals can be found at http://www.phrma.org/.) Look for some disorientation on the part of both physician attendees and exhibitors at this year's conventions. It will take time for physicians to understand that when the detail is finished, that's it—no laser pointer, no latte, no nothing.
Unfortunately, the coming disorientation is marketers' fault because, in the effort to maximize the number of attendees at our booths, we've given physicians a sense of tchotchke entitlement. For example, when word leaked that a booth had just opened a box of travel mugs, highly educated and well-paid physicians could be seen jostling for a place in line.