Galveston County Daily News, July 24, 2007 Column by Dr. Howard Brody GALVESTON -  Since I wrote a book about medicine's relationship with the pharmaceutical industry (which you can check out, along with updates, at, I could probably write every one of these columns about something to do with pharmaceutical sales representatives ("reps") and the freebies they give to docs. Naturally, I try to spare you from my hobby horse most of the time. But once in a while - especially when real patients speak up - I feel I have no choice. This story begins with an article in April in the New England Journal of Medicine, a national survey of physicians, showing that the vast majority accepted gifts from drug reps ( The next chapter came in May, when The Tennessean in Nashville ran a forceful editorial comment on the survey, condemning conflicts of interest that are destroying patient trust in physicians. None of this would be worth a column by itself. But what especially caught my attention were the readers' comments posted on the Tennessean website - like these: "The last three times I visited my doctor, pharma reps were setting up breakfast or lunch. Once, while sitting in the waiting room, a rep strolled in and asked the receptionist if he could get "on the List" to provide breakfast or lunch to the office.... The office smelled of food all three times... It appeared to be an everyday thing... I stopped going in their office because I always came out with a handful of Rx that I didn't need."