Drug industry contact sways students

June 8, 2011

Contact by medical students with the pharmaceutical industry is associated with positive attitudes about marketing, HealthDay News reports.

Boston - Contact by medical students with the pharmaceutical industry is associated with positive attitudes about marketing, HealthDay News reports.

A recently published review, co-authored by Kirsten E. Austad of Harvard Medical School, identified 32 studies that looked at the frequency and nature of pharmaceutical industry interactions with medical students, and the role the interactions played in students’ attitudes toward pharmaceutical policy issues. The studies evaluated about 9,850 medical students from 76 medical schools or hospitals.

Investigators found that between 40 and 100 percent of medical students reported some form of interaction with the pharmaceutical industry. Between 13 and 69 percent agreed that prescriptions are influenced by gifts from the industry. A correlation between frequency of contact and positive attitudes about industry interactions was reported in eight studies.

Some opinions seemed to change over time. Between 53 and 71 percent of clinical students reported that industry-provided promotional information about new drugs had an educational value, compared with 29 to 62 percent of preclinical students.

“Undergraduate medical education provides substantial contact with pharmaceutical marketing, and the extent of such contact is associated with positive attitudes about marketing and skepticism about negative implications of these interactions,” the authors wrote.

The review was published online in PLoS Medicine.