Fewer med schools take pharma support

A new survey quantifies a trend we've seen: Fewer medical schools are accepting gifts and support from drug and device makers. According to the study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 56 percent of internal medicine program directors say they accepted free food and teaching materials. That's down from 89 percent in 1990.

And apparently, some of the program directors are accepting pharma support unwillingly: Seventy-two percent say taking offered food and gifts from drugmakers was undesirable.

The ties between medical schools and drugmakers have come up for plenty of debate in recent years. Some colleges--including, most recently, Harvard Medical School--have instituted new, more restrictive policies governing just what sort and how much aid they can take from companies. Some of those policies even ban small gifts such as pizza; some won't let pharma reps distribute free samples directly to doctors' offices.

Researchers now are suggesting that perhaps med-school students need to be taught how to work with drugmakers. "Despite the attention around conflict of interest with pharmaceutical support, we were surprised to find that only 29.2 percent of the responding program directors reported a specific curriculum to instruct residents about interactions with the pharmaceutical industry," the researchers say.

- read the Bloomberg story