Unlike the sale of health-related products, sale of non-health-related products by physicians through their offices or websites, even at cost, does not offer health benefits to patients. The sale of non-health-related goods by physicians presents a conflict of interest and threatens to erode the primary obligation of physicians to serve the interests of their patients before their own. Furthermore, this activity risks placing undue pressure on the patient and demeaning the practice of medicine.
However, such sales can be acceptable under the following limited conditions:
- The goods in question are low cost.
- The physician takes no share in profit from their sale.
- The sale is:
- For the benefit of community organizations.
- Conducted in a dignified manner.
- Conducted in such a way as to assure that patients are not pressured into making purchases.
- Not a regular part of the physician’s business.
AMA Principles of Medical Ethics: I, II