A first-of-its kind national survey of medical students and residents finds that despite recent efforts by medical schools and academic medical centers to restrict access of pharmaceutical sales representatives to medical trainees, medical students and residents still commonly receive meals, gifts, and industry-sponsored educational materials. The study was completed by a team of researchers led by fourth-year Harvard Medical School student Kirsten Austad and Aaron Kesselheim, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., an internist and health policy researcher in the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at Brigham and Women's Hospital and is scheduled to publish online this week in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
"In medical school and residency, as trainees are learning the fundamentals of their profession, there is a need to ensure the education they receive is as unbiased as possible," said Dr. Kesselheim. "However, it is well known that promotional information and gifts from pharmaceutical companies can encourage non-evidence-based prescribing. Though many institutions have tried to insulate trainees from these effects, trainees' exposure to industry promotion is still quite high."