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Keep Big Pharma away, but I can't live without their post-its

The Royal College of Physicians have advised that drug companies should no longer be permitted to give promotional gifts to hospital doctors and GPs.

Not so much as a Post-It note, a coffee mug or one of those ball point pens that only has enough ink in it to write three prescriptions before it dries up mid-signat…

Every doctor I know assures me that they aren't influenced by such largesse on the part of Big Pharma. Even those who swan off to conferences in Verona and enjoy a touch of 5 star luxury at the NHS drug budget's expense.

I consider myself to be the exception that proves the rule. I am clearly and profoundly influenced by advertising and freebie offers. I watch a TV I saw advertised on my previous slightly less flashy TV, I drive a car I saw featured in a magazine "advertorial" and download tunes to my i-Pod because Amazon tell me, based on my reviews and buying patterns, that I'd like them. I'm weak.

Which is why I don't see drug reps, why I buy my own coffee mugs and take my own sandwiches to the very few ‘educational' meetings that I turn up at.

This means that sticky yellow squares emblazoned with brand names will never influence my prescribing simply because I don't know what the products contain.

Promotional Post-it notes are the only things that stop my life descending into chaos. Stickies on the fridge remind me to buy milk, stickies on my consulting room wall remind me about meetings, another on my PC screen reminds me that I should have written this piece by 5pm yesterday.

A quick office straw poll showed that the rest of the docs will miss them too, especially the ones who claim that ads go in one ear and out of the other. In no particular order they said that as far as free Post-It notes go, "They're grrrrrreat!", "Every little helps" and "I get them, ‘Because I'm worth it.'"

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