The Ethical Contention of Gift Giving

By considering the articles assigned, two specific questions come to mind. Firstly, is it unethical for physicians to receive gifts from the pharmaceutical industry, and, secondly, what is a reasonable response to this seemingly contested issue? Thompson elucidates what specifically a conflict of interest is, and understands it to be when a secondary interest, such as financial gain, unduly influences the primary interest of a professional. In the case of physicians, the primary interest would presumably be the health of their patients and the integrity of research. Could financial gain, in the form of gift giving, unduly influence the primary interests of physicians?
Kertz, Caplan and Merz consider this question with greater specificity. It seems as though behavior is perhaps influenced even by gifts of negligible value. Furthermore, it appears as though a large majority of physicians most often meet with detailers under the circumstances of gift giving, and, though this obviously facilitates relationships with pharmaceutical industries, the act of gift giving is well noted to be inherently profit motivated. What if physicians deny the influence of gifts? Is it still unethical, and would any changes then need to be made?
Dana and Lowenstein consider social science research, and what this indicates about the psychology involved with conflicts of interest. Bias, it appears, is often unintentional and unconscious. People are unable to avoid bias, and are often unaware of having bias. Physicians are no exception. Perhaps, if they are unconscious of this bias, it is hard to hold them morally accountable for accepting gifts and suffering a conflict of interest. Nevertheless, by acknowledging this bias as thoroughly permeating and consequential, the process of gift giving can be perceived as unethical, and ought perhaps to be therefore prohibited entirely.

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