Med Schools Failing on Conflict of Interest Policies

John Commins, October 14, 2013

While medical schools have had clear guidelines for conflict of interest policies since 2006, many fall short of meeting the policies set forth by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Institute of Medicine, and others, research shows.

The nation's medical schools have made progress over the last five years developing clinical conflict of interest policies but they all still have a long, long way to go, a study shows.

Institute for Medicine as a Profession researchers compared changes in medical schools' policies from 2008 to 2011, and found that while many institutions made progress implementing some COI policies, nearly two-thirds still lacked policies to limit ties to industry, including gifts, meals, drug samples, and payments for travel, consulting, and speaking. Only 16% met national standards in at least half of the areas, and no school met all the standards.

"It is a good news-bad news situation," says Susan Chimonas, lead author of the study, associate director of research at the Center on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University. The study appears in the October issue of Academic Medicine.

Chimonas says medical schools have a clear blueprint for conflict of interest policies that have been put forward since 2006 by groups that include the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Institute of Medicine, the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, and IMAP.

"That is the thing that is interesting to me," she says. "We actually have these standards. We've had three independent bodies of experts coming to basically the same conclusion about what these policies should look like or involve. Several years have gone by now and many schools are not coming even close to meeting those policies."

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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