40% of top medical schools fail COI test

June 6, 2008

A report by the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) of 150 top US medical schools found many have insufficiently strict conflict of interest policies, or do not have them at all.

A report by the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) of 150 top US medical schools found many have insufficiently strict conflict of interest policies, or do not have them at all.

The AMSA graded the schools on such topics as industry-funded speaking relationships, disclosure statements, gifts, meals, drug samples, site access, on-campus education, and off-campus speaking engagements. Such policies, AMSA contends, are necessary in a world where the pharmaceutical industry spends well over $25 billion a year in marketing specifically to doctors.

Some schools had policies that were recommended but not mandatory. Others do not include details on sanctions for noncompliance, or submitted descriptions of policies, not the policies themselves.

The eight schools that received A grades are the University of Pittsburgh, UC-Davis, Mount Sinai, UCLA, UCSF, U Penn, U Mass, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Fourteen schools scored a B, 4 a C, and 19 a D.

Among those receiving an F were Harvard, Temple, Tulane, and Dartmouth. Many of the 60 schools who received Fs failed to reply to the survey at all.

Fifty-five additional schools, including Johns Hopkins, NYU, and Duke, received an incomplete, since their conflict of interest policies were being evaluated. Their grade will be altered according if the new policy is submitted within 60 days.