An article in this week’s JAMA (Medical Studentsâ€™ 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?