This Date in UCSF History: Drug Peddling On Campus

Space in Moffitt Hospital’s cafeterias is now being rented to drug companies for display and advertisement of their products.

On Thursday afternoon, Oct. 4, people entering the “Golden Gate” Cafeteria were greeted by a large Dow Chemical Company display of products set up in the Pacific Room.

Commercial drug firms are allowed to rent cafeteria space every other Thursday afternoon for $25 as part of a new policy adopted by the hospital last spring.

According to Eric Owyang, chief pharmacist of the Department of Pharmaceutical Services, the new policy is an attempt to limit the sales activities of drug company representatives (also called “detail men”).

The policy prohibits detail men from doing their business in patient care areas and asks that they make no unsolicited contacts with doctors, nurses or students on campus.

Owyang said that before these regulations were issued “Detail men had free run of the

Medical Center... I feel that we’re taking an action that restricts their activities.”

The cafeteria displays are a way of compensating the drug companies for the privileges taken away by the new policy.

According to Owyang, “Some physicians feel that detailing activities on campus are inappropriate. Some other physicians feel that there is a place for detail men. This is a sort of middle approach.”

The regulations also ask that all products and information to be put on display be submitted to the Drug Information and Analysis Service for review.

They have the right to refuse exhibits that they feel are inaccurate or inappropriate. The display policy may not last.

Owyang said that it was being done on a trial basis and he believed that so far the displays “have got very little response from housestaff and physicians.”

The $25 rent is paid to the Dietary Department for cleaning up after the exhibits.

Owyang lamented that “Pharmacy derives nothing from the displays except a lot of work.”