During my intern year, the primary care intern group (of which I used to be a part) received a lecture on how drug companies suck for spending more on advertising than they do on research. I volunteered as a guinea pig and the lecturer emptied my white coat pockets of all drug company related materials.
I'll be honest: there was a LOT. Between at least half a dozen pens, my ID badge holder, my pharmacopoeia, and some various other stuff, I was loaded. Even the lecturer was surprised. "I didn't think you'd have this much stuff," he said, shaking his head in utter disappointment.
I used to go after those drug company pens like they were... drugs. I spent a day in a urologist's office and I was so excited that I got a pen for Viagra, Levitra, AND Cialis. Every time I saw a drug company representative, I'd go after them to get that pen and whatever else they had to give me.
Why did I do this? One, when you're a med student, DRUG COMPANY PENS ARE COOL. The fact that the drug reps are willing to court you makes you feel all special. Plus, I love clicky pens and the drug pens are all clicky pens. Because you can't, like, BUY clicky pens or anything.
Over the course of residency, I'm proud to say that I purged my white coat of all drug company products. I went to Costco one day and they had this huge package of clicky pens (exactly the kind I like) and purchased enough to last me the rest of my career. I still kept wearing the elastic ID holder from a drug company, but the drug name had completely rubbed off.
The way I look at it is this: If a drug company paid you 10 cents to wear an ad for their company for months, would you do it? No, of course not. But that's what you're doing when you use drug company pens.
However, there was a drug company that sponsored all our grand rounds in residency. And our grand rounds were MANDATORY. So I was forced to go to these drug company sponsored dinners. And it honestly wasn't that huge a hardship, because we'd always get to go to a nice restaurant and have a delicious meal that I couldn't afford on my own. IS THAT SO AWFUL?
I know the arguments against drug company advertising, but I just can't get passionate about it either way. I like getting a free meal. And when they tell me their spiel, I mostly just nod and say, "Uh huh, uh huh." It takes more that a cute drug rep to penetrate my sleep deprived brain.