New AMSA Scorecard Reflects Stronger Standards for Conflicts of Interest Policies

August 13, 2017


Have Medical Schools Taken on the Challenge?

Sterling, VA —The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) finds most schools have solid, though not excellent Conflicts Of Interest (COI) policies, according to its newly released 2014 medical school scorecard. The 2014 scorecard applies a more rigorous standard for evaluating medical school COI policies than in years past and calls for medical schools to be leaders in protecting the interests of students, residents, and patients against the marketing influence of industry. The new Scorecard also demonstrates a more nuanced approach by which schools may evaluate how they view and govern such relationships with industry.

The 2014 AMSA Scorecard, part of the Just Medicine Campaign and formerly known as the AMSA PharmFree Scorecard, found that while medical school policies have improved over the years to offer stronger and broader protections against conflicts of interest in medical education, the majority of institutions scored “B”s, meaning that their policies still allow industry to substantially influence medical education.

Of the 160 allopathic and osteopathic medical schools in the US, 26 (16%) received an A, 83 (52%) received a B, and 25 (16%) received a C. Schools that did not submit their policies for review received an I (Incomplete) if their policies were not fully available through a public website search.

“The AMSA Scorecard has evolved, because our understanding of the impact of industry influence in medical education on the behaviors of physicians-in-training has evolved,” says Teddy Fagrelius, the former AMSA Just Medicine Fellow. “Ultimately, this is not about erecting barriers that prevent progress, but rather this is about establishing safeguards within the profession, and instilling in our future physicians the commitment to evidence-based decision-making that puts patients’ interests first. We are encouraged to see that some medical schools are instituting policies that set clear boundaries but concerned that so many schools are settling for policies that leave students vulnerable to industry promotion.”

In 2012, an expert task force composed of leaders from eight of our nation’s medical schools and hospitals, as well as other organizations—including AMSA—representing medical, physician, and consumer organizations was convened by The Pew Charitable Trusts to assess the overall current state of medical school and teaching hospital policies and to make recommendations for COI policy best practices. The new Scorecard methodology considered and incorporated many of these recommendations, and represents an intentional and measurable shift in the standards by which policies are evaluated and scored.

About the Just Medicine Campaign

Launched in 2002, AMSA’s PharmFree Campaign – now the Just Medicine Campaign – encourages and works with medical schools and academic medical centers to develop policies that protect the integrity of medical education and reduce conflicts of interest through rigorous regulation of interactions with pharmaceutical and medical device industries. The Campaign guides medical students in advocating for evidence-based rather than marketing-based prescribing practices, the removal of conflicts of interest, and global access to essential medicines. AMSA provides toolkits, talks, and training institutes to help medical students advance these goals.

About the American Medical Student Association

AMSA is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Founded in 1950, AMSA is a student-governed, non-profit organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. To learn more about AMSA, our strategic priorities, or joining the organization, please visit us online at amsa.org.