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Z Gastroenterol. 2000 Jan;38(1):7-11.

Complimentary journeys to the World Congress of Gastroenterology--an inquiry of potential sponsors and beneficiaries.

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  • 1Deutsche Klinik für Diagnostik, Wiesbaden.


One of the most effective tools of pharmaceutical marketing is the distribution of gifts to physicians whose magnitude remains ill defined. This anonymous survey determines the frequency with which physicians receive travel awards from drug companies to attend International Medical Conventions and attempts to obtain the recipients' opinion on ethical and legal issues related to such sponsorships.


A questionnaire was mailed to all members of the German Gastroenterological Association who had attended the most recent World Congress of Gastroenterology and to 30 pharmaceutical companies. Questions concerned the physician's role at the congress, the mode of payment for travel, lodging and convention fees as well as the attendees' opinion on ethical and legal issues related to sponsoring by pharmaceutical companies.


78% of the contacted physicians returned the questionnaire. 67% (95% CI [55, 80]) of them received compensation for their travel expenses by industry, and the majority of them stated that they would not have attended the congress if such sponsoring had not occurred. More than two thirds believed that sponsoring by drug companies neither interferes with ethical and legal issues nor affects prescribing behavior. Such opinions were more frequently expressed by sponsored than nonsponsored attendees (p = 0.003). 20% of the contacted drug companies returned the questionnaire, one of whom expressed concerns regarding the ethics of sponsorships.


International conventions would suffer from a significant deprivation of attendance if the attendees' expenses were not subsidized by industry. Recognition of ethical and legal issues related to such sponsoring appears to be limited and requires further discussion within the medical community.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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