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The American Medical
Student Association monitors
industry influence

AMSA Releases PharmFree Scorecard Grading Policies on Pharma Company Access and Influence

by Barbara Kram , Editor
RESTON, Va. - Of all U.S. medical schools, only five received a grade of "A" on the American Medical Student Association's 2007 PharmFree Scorecard. The scorecard, which ranks medical schools according to their pharmaceutical influence policies, is the first of its kind and provides students with important new information about their medical school choices.

"It is important that we work to keep our medical schools and teaching hospitals free of the influence of pharmaceutical companies," said AMSA National President Jay Bhatt. "PharmFree medical students become PharmFree doctors and that commitment to evidence-based medicine benefits our patients and our colleagues."

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The PharmFree campaign encourages medical schools and academic medical centers to develop policies that limit the access of pharmaceutical company representatives to their campuses and prohibit medical students and physicians from accepting gifts of any kind from these representatives.

"An institution's PharmFree policy is indicative of the ethical and practical foundation it can offer students," said 2006-2007 PharmFree National Coordinator Justin Sanders. "Medical students want more and more to be PharmFree and they are looking to their schools to move forward with them."

Five schools were given a grade of "A," which means that the school has a comprehensive policy that restricts pharmaceutical company representatives' access to both the medical school campuses and the Academic Medical Center. Stanford University School of Medicine, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, University of Pennsylvania Medical School and Yale University School of Medicine all have comprehensive PharmFree policies in place.

AMSA will publish a new Scorecard each year as medical schools continue to reevaluate and instate comprehensive pharmaceutical influence policies. The survey will include enhanced metrics and include partner involvement to reflect the growing PharmFree movement.

"The PharmFree movement is about more than where we are right now; it's about where we're going," said 2007-2008 PharmFree National Coordinator Anthony Fleg. "We want to see schools' policies evolve and we will continue to work with AMSA members and their schools to create effective and comprehensive PharmFree policy."

Data for AMSA's 2007 PharmFree Scorecard were collected by Lainie Ori, an AMSA Student Programming Intern, in September and October of 2006. Information about the pharmaceutical influence policies at osteopathic and allopathic schools was obtained from student services offices and select administrators at each institution.

AMSA, the nation's largest independent medical student association, launched the PharmFree Campaign in 2002 to educate and train medical students to professionally and ethically interact with the pharmaceutical industry. AMSA also offers its members the opportunity to sign a PharmFree pledge, which states they will "accept no money, gifts, or hospitality from the pharmaceutical industry" and "seek unbiased sources of information." AMSA is the only national medical student organization to ban all pharmaceutical advertising in its publications and at its events. For a detailed history of the PharmFree movement, visit http://www.amsa.org/prof/history.cfm

AMSA's 2007 PharmFree Scorecard is available as a downloadable PDF on the web at http://www.amsa.org/prof/scorecard07.pdf

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