Medical Students Nationwide Remove Conflicts of Interest

For Immediate Release

American Medical Student Association (AMSA)
Contact: 

Kim Becker, Director of Public Relations
American Medical Student Association
(703) 620-6600, ext. 207
pr@amsa.org

Medical Students Nationwide Remove Conflicts of Interest

5th Annual National PharmFree Week Underway

RESTON, Va. - Medical students across the country are celebrating the 5th Annual
National PharmFree Week, "Promoting Evidence-Based Practice, Preserving
Pharmaceutical Innovation," which allows them to educate themselves and
their colleagues about reclaiming the ethics of medicine by removing
conflicts of interest and restoring the patient-physician relationship.

PharmFree Week is sponsored by the American Medical Student Association
(AMSA), the nation's oldest and largest independent association for
physicians-in-training. Over the course of the week, thousands of
future physicians and health care leaders will hold events across the
country aimed to restore a fundamental aspect of the patient-physician
relationship. Highlights include:

Saturday, October 11 Beyond Drug Reps, Access to Essential Medicines
Medical students from all over the country attended a symposium at the
University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine entitled
"Bridging the Gap: PharmFree and Access to Essential Medicines."
Students heard from experts on global access to essential
medicines-such as antiretroviral medications for HIV/AIDS-and learned
how to advocate for lower drug prices and patent reform.

Tuesday, October 14 Premeds Now, PharmFree Leaders Tomorrow
Premedical students will learn about pharmaceutical marketing and its
impact on physician prescribing. This will provide students, at an
early stage in their careers, with an understanding of the difference
between evidence-based medicine and medicine influenced by
pharmaceutical advertising practices.

Wednesday, October 15 Pursuing Excellence: Helping Your School Achieve an 'A' Policy
The State University of New York Upstate Medical University (Upstate
Medical University) will soon be rewriting their conflict of interest
policy, in collaboration with medical students at the school. While the
school received a grade of ‘B' on the 2008 AMSA PharmFree Scorecard
(www.amsascorecard.org), they are not satisfied with this "partial
reduction" of the pharmaceutical industry's marketing influence on
medicine. "We must ensure that our school upholds its duty to our
patients-not partially, but fully," says Jennifer Muniak, a second year
student at Upstate Medical University. At an ethics dinner hosted by
the medical school, faculty and students will enter discourse regarding
strengthening their university's policy.

Thursday, October 16: Symposium at Georgetown University Ending Industry Influence over Medical Education
Medical students from six schools in the Washington, D.C. area have
been invited to attend a symposium on conflicts of interests, which
includes a discussion with Shannon Brownlee, the author of Overtreated:
Why Too Much Medicine is Making us Sicker and Poorer. Students will
then participate in workshops designed to help them hone strategies for
helping their schools "go PharmFree" through the implementation of
conflict of interest policies.

Friday, October 17: Rally at Harvard Medical School Taking a Stand Against Conflicts of Interest: Medical Professionals Unite
Students, physicians and allied medical professionals will call upon
Harvard Medical School and affiliated hospitals to create a robust
conflict of interest policy, at a rally on the Harvard Medical School
Longwood campus quad at 3:30pm on Friday, October 17.

Last month, after Harvard physician-researchers failed to completely
disclose industry payments, students demanded full disclosure of all
conflicts by their physician-teachers. This demand was recently met by
Harvard Medical School. Currently, Harvard is the only Boston medical
school not developing a strong policy, according to the AMSA PharmFree
Scorecard. Students and their allies will also call on the Governor of
Massachusetts to fund - in full - the academic detailing program that
was part of the recently-passed Massachusetts bill on pharmaceutical
industry regulation.

Pharmaceutical industry marketing to doctors has been estimated at $28
billion to $46 billion per year, with additional promotion by the
medical device industry. This equates, conservatively, to $35,000 per
year in marketing directed at each physician, on average.
Pharmaceutical representatives visit U.S. physicians, providing free
lunches, gifts, marketing paraphernalia and free medication samples.
These enticements are designed to influence doctors to prescribe more
drugs and more expensive drugs and have often become a substitute for
objective medical evidence. "Medical students have been leading the
movement against conflicts of interest within medicine," says Dr. Brian
Hurley, AMSA national president. "The PharmFree movement revitalizes
professionalism in medical education and seeks to preserve
pharmaceutical innovation. Physicians should practice evidence-based
medicine using the best existing clinical evidence-not
carefully-packaged advertising-and continue to uphold personal and
professional integrity."

Launched in 2002, AMSA's 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. In June 2008, AMSA released its
PharmFree Scorecard, a comprehensive ranking of 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.

National PharmFree Week is supported by a grant from The Medical Letter
Inc. (www.medicalletter.org). For more information on the PharmFree
Campaign or events during National PharmFree Week, visit
www.pharmfree.org.

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The American Medical Student Association (AMSA), with more than a half-century history of medical student activism, 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. With more than 67,000 members, including medical and premedical students, residents and practicing physicians, AMSA is committed to improving medical training as well as advancing the profession of medicine. AMSA focuses on four strategic priorities, including advocating for quality, affordable health care for all, global health equity, enriching medicine through diversity and professional integrity, development and student well being. To learn more about AMSA, our strategic priorities, or joining the organization, please visit us online at www.amsa.org/.

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