We had a discussion today of whether we as veterinarians should take free pens, lunches, and other stuff from pharmaceutical reps. The moderators obviously thought that these freebies would influence our decisions. I guess the thought is that we would be distracted with the gifts and not look at the research. Are we that dumb? I understand how it can help doctors recognize these drugs/companies names, but I don't think I would blindly start prescribing the drugs because of a pen. I think the big things like vacations may instill a feeling of obligation to support that company, but I grab pens whenever I see them.
One good point that was brought up was that we need to be aware of what we advertise. By this I mean, what are our clients and the general public seeing written on our pens, notepads, shirts, or whatever? I have a Hill's backpack and I actually do support Hill's, but if it said Purina on it, I would probably still use it because it's a good backpack. However, I don't think a veterinarian should advertise companies that they wouldn't recommend. I think a lot of people accidentally advertise companies by using free stuff.
As a side note, the comment was made about making MSU a no free lunch (and other gifts) zone. However, companies like Hill's provide a lot of free gifts to the students, discounted food, money for orientation activities, and even money for student tutors. Taking away this stuff would make vet school a lot less enjoyable.