Medical students easily influenced by drug companies

September 8, 2005

An article in this week’s JAMA (Medical Students’ Exposure to and Attitudes About Drug Company Interactions) demonstrates that medical students, like residents and physicians, have extensive exposure to pharmaceutical marketing but don’t believe they are influenced by it. Medical students tend to think their low incomes and high debt levels make it ok to accept freebies from drug companies. And medical students are not particularly skeptical of drug company marketing.

The authors suggest that schools adopt policies limiting drug company interactions with students. I think that’s the wrong way to go. Students will be exposed to drug company and other marketing throughout their careers. Rather than limiting interactions why not add some critical thinking courses to the medical school curriculum that help these students understand how the pharmaceutical companies operate and how to evaluate messages that come from interested parties?

3 thoughts on “Medical students easily influenced by drug companies”

  1. I absolutely agree! These medical students may later have a deeper relationship with biopharma companies, not only in the marketing, but say, in clinical trials. or, have you read that Seattle Times coverage on doctors implicated in selling information about clinical trials to stock brokers? Medical students should be warned early on what temptations lie ahead of them…

  2. I agree with this. My cousin’s wife went to her first conference and came back with all sorts of crap. I think the drug companys spent way too much on advertising, and I am in the field. It also seems like medical school is long on rote memorization and patient care, but short on scientific processes, or evaluation of data to make informed judgements. But I don’t know anything about med school circuculum. I do know our (biomedical science) training was exactly for these things mentioned, but didn’t cover patient care (of course).

  3. I’m a second year med student at MCV/VCU, and we actually had a (brief) foray into the topic in our Pharm intro class. Granted, it was only one 50 minute lecture, but the lecturer was the dean of the pharmacy school, and he did a wonderful job of presenting general information about Pharma. The second half of his lecture consisted of surveys and charts showing just how much students and residents are influenced by drug reps. In speaking with my classmates afterward, many of us found it quite eye-opening, and several students joined the AMSA or No Free Lunch movements afterward. I definitely think that something like this should be mandatory in all med schools, preferably before third year (since the real exposure starts then).

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