Medical school receives "A" grade for conflict-of-interest policies
The UC Davis School of Medicine is one of only seven medical schools in the United States to receive a grade of "A" from the American Medical Student Association for having one of the nation's best conflict-of-interest policies.
A survey sponsored by the AMSA generated responses from 105 medical schools. Other medical schools receiving top grades were Mount Sinai School of Medicine (New York), the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (Maryland), the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the UC San Francisco School of Medicine.
"The schools that earned 'A' and 'B' scores are to be commended for setting a high bar and aggressively moving forward to ensure medical education, training and patient care is free of commercial bias," says Robert Restuccia, executive director of The Prescription Project. "While we still have a long way to go, we are optimistic that the growing momentum for reform will change the landscape and there will be great improvement next year."
UC Davis Health System's policy banning its employees from accepting gifts from any vendor took effect last July. It defines a vendor as "any representative or distributor of a manufacturer or company who visits for the purpose of soliciting, marketing or distributing products or information regarding the use of medications, products, equipment and/or services."
"Gifts," as defined by the policy, include payments, free or discounted items, medical samples for personal use, food and travel. Specific examples are pens, notepads, textbooks, meals and payment for attendance at a meeting.
AMSA collaborated with The Prescription Project, an industry watchdog group working to eliminate conflicts of interest in medicine, to develop a rigorous methodology and an interactive Web site that evaluates each school's policies in 11 areas. The AMSA PharmFree Scorecard (www.amsascorecard.org) offers a comprehensive look at conflict-of-interest policies across the country, as well as an in-depth, school-by-school look at policies that govern industry interaction with medical school faculty and trainees.
The AMSA PharmFree Scorecard evaluates restrictions on gifts, paid speaking for products, acceptance of drug promotion samples, interaction with sales representatives and industry-funded education, among other criteria.
"There is substantial evidence that marketing shapes physician prescribing habits," said Brian Hurley, AMSA president.
UC Davis School of Medicine is among the nation's leading medical schools, recognized for its specialty-and primary-care programs.The school offers combined medical and master's degree programs in public health, business administration and rural health, as well as a combined medical and doctoral degree for physician scientists interested in addressing specific scientific, social, ethical and polical challenges of health care. Along with being a leader in health-care research, the school is known for its commitment to people from underserved communities and a passion for clinical care. For more information, visit UC Davis School of Medicine.