Time and time again, when I write about physicians getting free lunches delivered by sales reps, someone always comes forward and says something like “It’s ridiculous to think that I can be influenced by a $10 lunch!”

For some physicians, however, a free lunch has a much greater value than its monetary worth. Take this comment, for example, that I received to the post “Blog Readers’ Opinions on Physician Marketing & Education Practices“:

“I would just like to say that as a former intern and resident working 100-hour weeks while making less than $30K a year, a free lunch now and then was a godsend and brightened up otherwise long and dreary days.”

“Seriously, though, I do understand why institutions are moving toward these ‘No Free Lunch’ things, but really, cut the scut workers a break every now and then. If you’ve been there, you know how it sucked and how a free lunch was like having recess.”

This anonymous commenter then went on to say: “Neither I, nor anyone I trained with was ever even remotely influenced by a drug lunch (N = at least 100)”

I won’t quibble about how this person knows what influences or does not influence other people like his/her colleagues.

From these comments, however, it appears that a lunch is not just a lunch, but, in some cases, it’s like “recess” at school or a “godsend.”

This really puts into perspective the true value of a “free” lunch, which may be many times the monetary value. How can you place a value on a “godsend?” It’s priceless!

From that perspective, I believe it’s more likely than ever that free lunches can unduly influence physicians, regardless of the debatable contention that dozens of these lunches have not influenced the particular physician who made the above comments.

But this physician/commenter may just be a pizza fanatic: “The very thought of changing lunches from pizza to something healthy is heresy,” according this person.