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Beryl Lieff Benderly

Medical Students Call for Stronger Policies and More Education Concerning Conflict of Interest

You may not have realized that this is National PharmFree Week, but the American Medical Student Association and students on various campuses nationwide are celebrating by calling on medical schools and medical centers to strengthen their conflict of interest policies, educate students more effectively about the issues involved in pharmaceutical marketing, and help make medicines more widely available throughout the world.  

The effort aims to “change the culture of medicine from relying on the convenience of marketing and the luxury of free gifts to a culture which puts patients first by prioritizing evidence-based medicine,” said Tim Anderson, a fourth-year medical student at Case-Western Reserve University, who heads the ASM PharmFree campaign, in a statement.  Key to accomplishing these goals, the association argues, is more awareness of the issues, and more transparency, among both students and faculty.

ASMA’s PharmFree activities include a scorecard rating the conflict of interest policies of medical schools and medical centers across the country and curricular materials for teaching students about drug development, pharmaceutical companies’ marketing practices, and conflict of interest issues.