HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Medical School and Conflicts of Interest

Both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog note the recently completed survey showing the conflicts of interest policies at medical schools   According to the American Medical Student Association, such policies could be improved.   Jacob Goldstein for the Wall Street Journal writes,

A big med students’ group published scorecards today grading American med schools’ conflict of interest policies. The schools did pretty badly, with more than twice as many D grades as As. Grades are posted online here.

The grades, compiled by the American Medical Student Association, consider policies relating to things like gifts from industry, industry-funded speaking deals and access granted to sales reps. The group used a scoring system that varied for each criterion. . . . 

The group gave only seven schools an A, while 14 got Bs, 4 received Cs and and 19 got Ds. Fifteen schools either had no policies at all or had policies that earned them an F. Another 45 schools that didn’t provide info or didn’t respond to follow-up requests.

This kind of thing has lately become a big deal in the med school world. In April, the American Association of Medical Colleges released recommendations calling for schools to take a hard line, banning things like free food and putting strict limits on access by sales reps. . . .

The New York Times' Gardiner Harris similarly states,

Most medical schools in the United States fail to police adequately the money, gifts and free drug samples that pharmaceutical companies routinely shower on doctors and trainees, according to a ranking by the American Medical Student Association.  Only 7 of the 150 medical schools included in the rankings received a grade of A while 14 were given a B. Sixty got a failing grade, and the student association found that 28 schools, or nearly one in five, were in the midst of revising their conflict-of-interest policies. . . .

The student association will routinely update the grades it gives medical schools, which are listed on a school-by-school basis at The grades will be officially released Tuesday.   Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and University of California schools at Los Angeles, Davis and San Francisco were among those receiving top grades. . . .

The student association, which represents more than 67,000 medical students, residents and practicing physicians, began its ranking in November when it requested conflict-of-interest polices from all of the nation’s medical colleges. The association made at least four attempts to receive the policies from every school in the country, but 16 schools declined to submit a policy and 29 did not respond at all. These schools, along with 15 that did submit policies, were given failing grades.

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