No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

As one of the largest manufacturers in the dental care industry, 3M ESPE works hard to ensure that we are acting ethically and responsibly in our communications with dental professionals. One component of this is our membership in AdvaMed, the industry association for medical device manufacturers. AdvaMed updated its code of ethics last year to give members additional guidance in their interactions with health care professionals. There are four states (California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Vermont) where companies are required by law to adhere to this code of ethics, and New York, Colorado, Connecticut and Texas legislatures have bills pending as we speak.  Additionally, we anticipate that the federal government will eventually pass relevant legislation. What does it mean for practicing dentists, though?

The short explanation is that it means the elimination of all promotional items for you and your staff, but from what we’ve seen so far, most dentists are largely unaffected by these changes. Perhaps most notably, such items as pens, notepads and mugs that used to be so commonly distributed by manufacturers have gone away. Any dentist who has ever spent a day cleaning out his or her desk can likely appreciate the sense in this policy—too often, these items go unused and only add to office clutter.

There are also new restrictions on providing refreshments or meals for dental professionals. While in most cases, the policy allows manufacturers to provide “modest meals” accompanying training events for offices, we cannot offer anything for guests or any staff members who don’t have a professional interest in the event.

At a time when there is so much scrutiny of waste in the healthcare industry, perhaps these ideas make sense. And while we’ll continue to monitor this ever-shifting landscape of laws pertaining to our relationship with our customers, some things will not change.  Our relationships with our customers have always been, and will continue to be, of the most ethical nature, grounded in the spirit of collaboration for the betterment of oral health.


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