Medical schools improve scores on interactions with drug firms

Policies on accepting gifts, meals and consulting fees were part of the evaluation.

By Susan J. Landers — Posted July 3, 2009

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The American Medical Student Assn. said many medical schools scored higher this year than in 2008 on a conflict-of-interest scorecard that assesses school policies on pharmaceutical companies' activities on campus.

According to the association's PharmFree Scorecard, 45 of 149 medical colleges and colleges of osteopathic medicine earned grades of A or B for their policies at the June 16 launch of the 2009 scorecard. Last year, 21 schools received such grades.

Thirty-five schools received F grades from the scorecard (link).

For the past three years, the AMSA has asked every school to submit policies for assessment, and most have responded. The scorecard was developed with The Prescription Project, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Eleven policy areas were assessed in grading a school's interactions with pharmaceutical firms, including those related to accepting gifts and meals, consulting fees and drug samples.

The AMA's Code of Medical Ethics provides guidance on accepting gifts from industry by physicians and medical students. Scholarships from drug firms to permit students to attend educational conferences are permissible if the students are chosen by the academic institution, the code says.

Top-ranked teaching institutions in the scorecard for 2009 include: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine; Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City; Mayo Medical School-College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn.; University of California, Davis, School of Medicine in Sacramento; University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore; University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia; and University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine.u

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