An article in HealthDay recently raised a concern about the frequency with which medical students in this country are wooed and even paid by drug manufacturers. The threat implied in the article is that when the medical students become physicians they will owe “allegiance” to the drug companies, and that could be detrimental to their patients. Here are excerpts from the article:
Drug company marketing to those attending medical school is common and can cloud students’ ethical judgment, researchers warn.
A team led by Kirsten Austad and Aaron S. Kesselheim at Harvard Medical School in Boston analyzed published studies that included a total of 9,850 students at 76 medical schools in the United States. The investigators found that most of the students had some type of interaction with drug companies and that this contact increased during the clinical years, with up to 90 percent of clinical students receiving some form of marketing materials from drug makers.
Among the students queried, most believed there was no ethical problem in accepting gifts from drug companies. Their justifications included financial hardship or pointing out that most other medical students accepted such gifts.
Nearly two-thirds of the medical students claimed that drug company promotions, gifts or interactions with sales representatives did not affect their impartiality regarding drug makers and their products.
The study is published in the May 24 online edition of the journal PLoS Medicine.
Santa Clara University has more about drug company gifts to doctors.