Physician Advertising

November 1, 2005

I am opening up my private practice this month. I discovered an anti-acne herbal medicine. Can I advertise to give free samples to patients?

Question: I am opening up my private practice this month. I discovered an anti-acne herbal medicine. Can I advertise to give free samples to patients?

Answer: For the most part, physician advertising is limited more by ethics than regulation.

Here is the AMA's statement on the proper bounds for self-promotion, which mostly says you have to be truthful:

www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/8348.html.

I'd also suggest that you should be careful to be very professional in how you do it. You don't want the other physicians in the area to whom you might refer or who might refer to you thinking you're some kind of cowboy. The fact that you're new and pushing an herbal remedy only increases the chances that some of your more conservative peers will look askance at you.

Also, consider as you approach this whether you're targeting the population you want. If you position yourself for young-ish patients, or even middle-aged patients with acne and an interest in herbal solutions, that is what you'll get. Are you ready to provide other herbal remedies? Would you prefer an older, more complex patient base?