Medical school gets bad grade on freebies
University of Hawaii is cited for having no policy governing gifts from companies
A student medical organization gives the University of Hawaii medical school a grade of F for its lack of a policy governing the acceptance of money, gifts and free samples by doctors and trainees from pharmaceutical companies.
The "Pharmfree Scorecard" by the American Medical Student Association also examined interaction with sales representatives and industry-funded education, among other criteria.
Dr. Jerris Hedges, medical school dean, said he does not believe UH needs a policy because it does not operate a university-run clinic.
"The John A. Burns School of Medicine differs in that our faculty members are integrated into community teaching hospitals and clinics, and practice alongside community-based physicians," Hedges said in an e-mail. "By nature, policies related to interaction with commercial vendors are determined by the site at which the physicians practice."
In the survey, 60 of 150 schools nationwide failed. Only seven received an A.
The scorecard noted the UH medical school does not have polices about attendance at industry-sponsored lectures or industry-funded speaking relationships or consulting, nor does it have a policy on industry support for scholarships and funds.
Hedges said faculty disclose their consulting and other professional activities, which are reviewed annually by the department chairman and the dean.
Lana Gimber, AMSA president at the UH medical school, said in an e-mail that students are taught about the issues surrounding pharmaceutical gifts and whether they can influence what is prescribed to patients.
She said she is working with the dean of students to try getting UH to adopt a conflict-of-interest policy.
Gimbler said she has not come across pharmaceutical gifts, but has seen how drug companies try to woo doctors at conventions.
In a news release, Dr. Brian Hurley, AMSA national president, said, "By eliminating gifts and the misleading information that (pharmaceutical) reps currently bring into our schools, hospitals, and academic medical centers, physicians will be able to better practice evidence-based medicine."
In April the Association of Medical Colleges recommended that schools ban many of the perks provided by pharmaceutical firms.