Doctors taking promotional gifts from pharmaceutical companies
Fatwa No: 115843

  • Fatwa Date:14-12-2008 - Thul-Hijjah 16, 1429
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Question

Greetings of Sala'am, I am in pharmaceutical industry and I would like to inquire the Shariah acceptability of the traditional practices of Medical sales representatives-- giving gifts, promotional materials such as plane tickets and trip abroad, aircon, laptops etc. to Doctors just to prescribe the products they are promoting. Can you please cite qur'anic bases or hadith on your Fatwa? What will a muslim do if you faced with this kind of business compititors? How do we defferentiate bribery from gifts? how will I know if my prmotional strategy is not haram? Jakalahulkhair.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

 

If pharmaceutical companies donate gifts which may be so expensive to doctors in return for them to prescribe the medicine for the patients, then there are many disadvantages in this, because there is no doubt that the doctor who is paid (a given amount) will be affected by the amount paid to him and he will neither look to the quality of medicine nor to its suitable price, but his prime concern will be on the gift. In this case, the doctor will be transformed from a trustworthy and honest adviser to a promoter for the pharmaceutical companies competing with each other for the promoting doctor. Consequently, the first harmed person in this competition is the patient because he is prescribed a medicine that is inferior in quality than another medicine, and he is harmed as well by the expensive price of the medicine because such gifts are taken into consideration when fixing the price of the medicine. Therefore, considering this issue and its consequences from a religious point of view leads us to forbid such kind of promotion for the medicines.

The correct and permissible way for the representative is to show the medicine and its characteristics to the doctor without giving him anything, and then leave the matter to the doctor to issue a ruling on the medicine and prescribe it for the patients.

As regards the difference between the bribery and the gift, then the bribery is a means to falsehood or it is what is paid to the employee so that he would do a work which he is supposed to be obliged to do, whereas a gift is what is paid to the person as a way of generosity and due to loving him.

Allaah Knows best.

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