More med schools push conflicts policies

Once again, the American Medical Student Association is taking its professors and schools to task. The latest ratings on med school conflicts-of-interest policies show that more colleges are beefing up their anti-conflicts policies. However, more than half of med schools still have less than adequate rules--or even none at all.

Just nine med schools earned an A grade, the scorecard states, and 36 earned Bs. That's 6 percent and 24 percent of schools, respectively--a big increase from the 21 schools that scored an A or B last year. Schools like the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center--which instituted a new, tougher policy last year--and Mayo Medical School were described as "exemplary." Mayo, in fact, improved its grade from a D to an A for its "strong policies with defined areas that many other schools do not address."

But almost as many schools earned Fs--35--as Bs. This group included schools that said they had no policy, as well as schools that didn't respond to requests for a plan. Some 27 got "In Process" grades because they're currently revising or setting up new policies.

Conflicts-of-interest policies have been in the news the last couple of years as concern about industry's relationship with doctors, academic researchers and med-school faculty has grown. In some cases, outside pressure from watchdogs like Sen. Charles Grassley has spurred school politics, Allan Coukell of the Pew Prescription Project told the Wall Street Journal Health Blog. "We're seeing genuine progress and that's heartening," Coukell said. "On the other hand, there are a lot of schools that are yet to look seriously at these issues."

- see the AMSA scorecard
- read the executive summary from AMSA
- see the Wall Street Journal story