Oh, those crazy kids. For the past four years, the American Medical Student Association has been tracking conflict-of-interest policies and, very publicly, ranking the progress - or lack thereof - at med schools around the country. Generally, the results played up the failings (see here). For the first time, however, the AMSA finds that most schools have implemented what it calls 'strong' policies.
To wit, the official PharmFree Scorecard found that 52 percent, or 79 of 152 med schools, now receive a grade of A or B for policies governing interactions between faculty and students and the pharmaceutical industry. That's up from 45 schools, or 30 percent, last year. More specifically, 19 received an A and another 60 were given a B. Two dozen got a C and 18 notched a D. That means 26 failed, including 12 schools that refused to submit policies or declined to respond to repeated requests for info. Another five were marked 'In Process,' since policies are currently under review or being revised, which is rather sporting.
Interestingly, the AMSA says there were two med schools that received a perfect score for limiting the access sales reps to students and faculty – the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine and Florida State University College of Medicine. And nearly one-third now teach students to understand institutional conflict of interest policies, to recognize how industry promotion and marketing can influence clinical judgment and to consider the ethics around conflict of interest (see the scorecard here).
Over the past few months, several med schools have adopted policies and generated discussion in the process (see here and here). The Scorecard, by the way, was developed with help from the Pew Prescription Project. "The bottom line is we see continued momentum for the Scorecard, reflected in a record number of new policies submitted this year," Pew director Allan Coukell writes us. "More and more schools have strong policies, although close to half of all schools still need to do better."