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Medical schools say they are trying to keep drug companies away from medical students. But a survey of medical students and residents shows that pharmaceutical sales reps are still sending medical students gifts, buying them meals and generally trying to bribe them with industry-sponsored educational materials.
“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,” warns researcher Dr. Aaron Kesselheim of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “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.”
The survey shows that one-third of first-year students and more than half of fourth-year students and residents report receiving industry-sponsored gifts.