It’s no secret that medical device and pharmaceutical companies have had long-standing relationships with medical schools and teaching hospitals. And although fruitful collaborations with these companies, primarily for research and collaboration, should continue, some of these relationships have gone too far. Although many schools have significantly strengthened their conflict-of-interest policies that govern these relationships, industry still brings biased information into our nation’s medical education training grounds—places that should be steeped in evidence-based learning. One recent survey of medical schools, for example, found that up to half of medical students and residents reported receiving personal gifts from pharmaceutical companies, even in schools graded highly on the AMSA Scorecard
Conflict-of-interest policies, guidelines for how industry can (or cannot) interact with an institution, are key to preventing this industry overreach. There is evidence demonstrating that COI policies at medical schools can, in fact, impact prescribing behavior. One study showed that graduates from schools with strong COI policies prescribed antidepressants more rationally than graduates with weaker or no COI policies.