Medical Students, Pew Find Improvement in Medical School Pharmaceutical Conflict-of-Interest Policies, But Many Lag

Contact: Kathy Melley, 617.275.2861


Boston, MA - 06/16/2009 - Over one-fifth of U.S. medical schools improved their conflict-of-interest rules in the past year, yet dozens of others lag behind according to the 2009 American Medical Student Association (AMSA) PharmFree Scorecard, released today. The Scorecard, developed by AMSA and the Pew Prescription Project, finds that 45 of 149 medical schools now receive a grade of A or B for their policies governing pharmaceutical industry interaction with medical school faculty and students, compared with only 29 last year. However, for the second year, dozens of schools received grades of D or F and remain far behind the national leaders.

The AMSA PharmFree Scorecard (www.amsascorecard.org) offers a comprehensive national overview, as well as an in-depth, school-by-school analysis in 11 areas, including gifts and meals from industry to doctors, paid promotional speaking for industry, acceptance of free drug samples, interaction with sales representatives and industry-funded education.

Top-ranked (‘A’) schools in the 2009 report include: Mount Sinai School of Medicine (New York), the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the University of California Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the University of California Davis School of Medicine, the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Mayo Medical School improved their policies since last year to get ‘A’ grades, from grades of D.

Of the 149 U.S. medical schools, 9 receive As (6%), 36 Bs (24%), 18 Cs (12%), 17 Ds (11%) and 35 Fs. Schools that declined to submit policies and schools that did not respond to repeated requests for policies received an automatic ‘F’ (23 schools). Thirty-four respondents received a grade of “In Process” because their policies are currently under review or revision.

“Every day, medical students witness the increasing reach of pharmaceutical marketing and the way it can distort medical care,” says Dr. Lauren Hughes, MPH, AMSA national president. “By eliminating the gifts and the misleading information that drug reps currently bring into our schools, hospitals and academic medical centers, we will be able to better practice evidence-based medicine. And that translates into better care for our patients.”

AMSA developed the rigorous scorecard methodology with the Pew Prescription Project, which works to promote consumer safety through reforms in the approval, manufacture and marketing of prescription drugs.

“There’s no doubt that some schools are responding to scandals and pressure from lawmakers, but there is also real leadership within the medical profession,” said Allan Coukell, director of the Pew Prescription Project. “There is no excuse now for the schools that haven’t acted.”

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