Galveston County Daily News, March 14, 2007 By John Stobo Recently there has been much discussion in academia and the media about conflicts of interest involving the relationship between physicians and pharmaceutical companies. We at UTMB think it's important for the public to join this spirited conversation. The crux of the debate is whether a physician decision about the benefit of a given drug or device could be influenced by his or her financial relationship with the company producing it. Such financial relationships could run the gamut from receiving a ballpoint pen with the company's logo to taking a gift as substantial as an all-expense paid trip to a symposium in Hawaii at which the physician advocates the use of the drug.