About 90 percent of the pharmaceutical industry’s $21 billion marketing budget is directed at physicians, according to JAMA. There are more than 90,000 pharmaceutical representatives that visit U.S. physicians, providing free lunches, gifts, marketing paraphernalia and free medication samples. These enticements are designed to influence doctors to prescribe more drugs and more expensive drugs and have often become a substitute for objective medical evidence.
Launched in 2002, AMSA’s PharmFree Campaign 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 from these representatives. In May 2007, AMSA released its PharmFree Scorecard, which was a first-of-it’s-kind ranking of medical schools according to their pharmaceutical influence policies. Of all the medical schools in the United States, five received a grade of “A,” which translates into comprehensive school policy that restricts pharmaceutical representatives to both the medical school campus and its academic medical centers. Forty schools received an “F” for their lack of policy.
* American Medical Student Association