From: Paul Schaefer, ENN
Published August 20, 2007 08:51 AM

Group Pushes Back Against Drug Marketing In Medical Schools

RESTON, Va. - Protecting medical students and new doctors from aggressive drug company marketing tactics is the focus of a new campaign offered by an independent medical education group. The group, the American Medical Student Association, has launched an effort to help new doctors make decisions based upon solid medical evidence and not marketing from drug companies. The nonprofit group will offer print, online and PDA-based drug information that is independent, peer-reviewed, and unbiased in critical evaluations of drugs, with special emphasis on new drugs. The information is directed at physicians and other health professions.


"More than 90,000 drug reps roam the halls of our hospitals providing free lunch, branded toys and pens, free samples and other marketing paraphernalia," says Michael Ehlert, M.D., AMSA's national president. "It is their job to 'buy' the prescribing habits of physicians and physicians-in-training. And they go to great lengths to do so."


Ehlert explains, "As a new academic year begins, third-year medical students are entering hospitals across the country to begin their clinical rotations. For many, it is the first time they are interacting with patients. It is also the first time they will encounter the many drug reps that wander hospital halls."


AMSA is the first national, medical organization to ban all pharmaceutical advertising in its publications and at its events. AMSA launched the PharmFree Campaign in 2002 to educate and train medical students to professionally and ethically interact with the pharmaceutical industry. The PharmFree Campaign also encourages medical schools and academic medical centers to develop policies that limit the access of pharmaceutical company representatives to their campuses and prohibit medical students and physicians from accepting gifts of any kind.


"With the proliferation of industry-supported advertising and promotional events at an all time high, it is imperative for all health care providers to critically evaluate the source of their new drug information. It has never been more important for those within the medical community to realize that where you hear about new medicines first, matters," states Gene Carbona, former pharmaceutical industry insider and current executive director of sales at The Medical Letter, Inc.


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AMSA's first-year clinical medical students will receive complimentary print, Palm(R) and online subscriptions to The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics, a crucial resource for members of the health care community to consult when confronted by the advertisements and sales representatives of the industry. The Medical Letter, Inc. is also supporting various local and national AMSA PharmFree endeavors as well as awarding scholarships to selected Pharmaceutical Policy Leader Scholars.


The group, the American Medical Student Association, AMSA is the nation's largest independent medical student organization. They represent more than 68,000 physicians-in-training. They are partnering with another organization, The Medical Letter, Inc. in this effort.


AMSA is the first national, medical organization to ban all pharmaceutical advertising in its publications and at its events. AMSA launched the PharmFree Campaign in 2002 to educate and train medical students to professionally and ethically interact with the pharmaceutical industry. The PharmFree Campaign also encourages medical schools and academic medical centers to develop policies that limit the access of pharmaceutical company representatives to their campuses and prohibit medical students and physicians from accepting gifts of any kind.


"By partnering with The Medical Letter, AMSA is now able to provide its membership with comprehensive evidence-based training tools. For more than five years, AMSA has warned students that drug reps may be providing them with skewed information in order to sell brand name pharmaceuticals, but it is the first time we have given them the necessary tools to combat the marketing dribble," continues Dr. Ehlert.


About The Medical Letter


The Medical Letter, Inc., a nonprofit organization founded in 1958, offers health care professionals objective, independent analysis of both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. In addition to its newsletters, The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics and Treatment Guidelines from The Medical Letter, it also publishes handbooks and software on topics such as adverse drug interactions and antimicrobial therapy. The Medical Letter is supported entirely by subscriber fees and is based in New Rochelle, NY. For more information about The Medical Letter call (800) 211-2769 or go to www.medicalletter.org.


About the American Medical Student Association


The American Medical Student Association (AMSA), with more than a half- century history of medical student activism, is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Founded in 1950, AMSA is a student-governed, non-profit organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. With more than 68,000 members, including medical and premedical students, residents and practicing physicians, AMSA is committed to improving medical training as well as advancing the profession of medicine. AMSA focuses on four strategic priorities, including universal healthcare, disparities in medicine, diversity in medicine and transforming the culture of medical education. To learn more about AMSA, our strategic priorities, or joining the organization, please visit us online at www.amsa.org/.


For more information: www.pharmfree.org.


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