In 2006, the Housestaff Association presented the Dean at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) with a proposal to effectively end the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on campus. The Dean convened a workgroup to examine the issue, and faculty, residents, and medical students were surveyed on their views and interactions. Authors present here the responses from medical students.
A web-based, anonymous survey was sent to all OHSU medical students in 2007; 59% completed it. The survey included items measuring attitudes about the pharmaceutical industry and interactions with pharmaceutical representatives (PRs).
Only 5% of clinical and 7% of preclinical students agreed that PRs have an important teaching role, and fewer than 1 in 6 believed that PRs provided useful and accurate information on either new or established drugs; 54% of clinical students indicated that PRs should be restricted from making presentations on campus, versus 32% of preclinical students, and only 30% of clinical students agreed that accepting gifts had no impact on their own prescribing, versus 50% of preclinical students. Students who acknowledged the influence of PRs and perceived less educational benefit were less likely to accept gifts such as textbooks; however, 84% of clinical students had attended an on-campus event sponsored by a pharmaceutical company in the previous year.
Only a small proportion of OHSU medical students value interactions with PRs, but many still attend events sponsored by pharmaceutical companies.