Medical device and pharmaceutical industry sales representatives may offer your department or practice education and training on their products. On such occasions, the industry representatives may offer to bring lunch or pay for dinner for attendees.
The following Frequently Asked Questions are meant to answer the most common questions concerning how to handle offers of free meals from industry representatives.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Texas Children’s policy on accepting meals from industry?
Texas Children’s policy allows for the acceptance of low-cost meals from industry representatives, as long as they are 1) infrequent, 2) unsolicited and 3) associated with a bona fide educational purpose. The focus of the presentation must not be the promotion of products, but rather education and the discussion of symptoms, diagnoses, or treatment.
How do I know if the lunch presentation is educational in nature rather than merely marketing the products sold by the industry representative?
The discussion of signs, symptoms, diagnosis, or treatment are considered educational. Simple promotion of a product or service is considered marketing, and lunch should not be provided by the industry representative.
Do I need to report a free meal from an industry representative?
Yes, physicians and employees (Manager and above) must track and report the acceptance of anything of value from industry on an annual basis to the Compliance and Privacy Office via the annual Disclosure of Outside Interests Questionnaire.
How can I find out ahead of a scheduled lunch if it will be educational in nature or promotion of the company’s products?
Ask! You should always ask the industry representative prior to scheduling a lunch meeting. In fact, we suggest that you ask to see the slide deck in advance so that you can make a determination about whether the presentation is truly educational in nature.
What if I reviewed the presentation in advance, but am still uncertain as to whether it is educational or marketing?
Contact the Compliance and Privacy Office at email@example.com or ext. 4-2085 and ask us to evaluate the presentation.
Does the company providing the meals have to report anything about the fact that they provided free meals to Texas Children’s?
Yes. If the company provides a free meal to a physician, it is required by law to report the value of the meal, the name of the physician, and the date the meal was provided to the Center for Medicaid/Medicare Services. The data is then published annually on the Open Payments website: https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov/
Can my department or practice avoid all of these reporting requirements and decide that we do not want to accept free meals during visits from industry representatives?
Yes. Certain departments have already made the decision that their practice will not accept free meals from industry.
What if I need to evaluate a product or service? Can I meet with an industry representative to discuss what their company offers?
Yes. It is perfectly acceptable to meet with industry representatives so that they may promote products or services that you are interested in purchasing on behalf of Texas Children’s, or prescribing or recommending to Texas Children’s patients. However, you may NOT accept free food, items, drug samples, or anything else during these meetings. If an industry representative is going to market his or her products or services during a meal, you should pay for the meal yourself.
If you have any questions, contact the Compliance and Privacy Office by calling 832-824-2085 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.