Med students cheer schools for policing pharma conflicts

Which medical schools are up to par at policing financial ties to industry? The American Medical Student Association has some answers. In its 6th version of the AMSA Scorecard, the group assesses conflicts-of-interest policies and curricula at the 158 med schools in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. And the good news is that fewer schools are getting failing grades.

In fact, only 13 schools got Fs on their latest Scorecard, 8 of them because they didn't respond to requests for information. And more than 70% of schools, or 115 of them, scored As or Bs; that's up from 102 last year, 79 in 2010, and just 45 in 2009. "This is yet another tremendous year-to-year increase in schools with 'model' policies," AMSA says.

And just what does the AMSA consider to be a model policy? It's pretty restrictive. All gifts and on-site meals funded by industry would be prohibited, regardless of their value. Consulting arrangements should be subject to institutional review and described in formal contracts. Speaking-bureau arrangements would be limited; some even prohibit participation.

Pharma reps get short shrift in these model policies, too. Drug samples are allowed only in "certain narrow circumstances," and doctors aren't allowed to take samples directly from reps. In fact, reps would ideally be barred from meeting with faculty, or prohibited to market products anywhere in academic medical centers and affiliated clinics and offices.

There are more rules about travel, disclosure, continuing medical education and so on. Schools that achieved an A grade matched the models by at least 85% (and some actually won perfect scores). Interestingly enough, the one category where the most schools fell short--and where the fewest schools achieved perfect scores--was interaction with sales reps. Only four schools made the grade there--including Stony Brook University School of Medicine and Florida State University College of Medicine--up from two last year.

- read the AMSA report
- get the AMSA Scorecard