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Thousands of Medical Students Urge Schools to Eliminate Pharmaceutical Marketing Influence

National PharmFree Week Commences Today

RESTON, Va., Oct. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Thousands of medical students join together this week, National PharmFree Week, calling upon medical schools to ban pharmaceutical marketing influence from their campuses.

National PharmFree Week is sponsored by the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), the nation's largest, independent medical student organization. Over the course of the week, thousands of future physicians and healthcare leaders will hold events across the country, including:

-- Capitol Hill Briefing: AMSA joins the National Physicians' Alliance and the Prescription Project to lobby on behalf of Senate Bill 2029. The legislation will require disclosure of payments to physicians by the pharmaceutical industry. (Monday, October 22, 2007, 2:30 p.m.)

-- New Policy Announced at UConn: The University of Connecticut Medical Center will announce its new pharmaceutical policy. (Wednesday, October 24, 12 p.m.)

-- FLIP Symposium: The symposium, being held at the University of Illinois at Chicago, will provide skills to become more critical, evidence-based prescribers. Guest speakers include several renowned leaders, including The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Editor in Chief Catherine DeAngelis. (Saturday, October 27, 9 a.m.)

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 and medical students, 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.

"These marketing practices, including the growing number of "ask your doctor" commercials, has led to over-medicating the U.S. population," says Michael Ehlert, M.D., AMSA national president. "There is substantial evidence that marketing shapes physician prescribing habits. By eradicating pharmaceutical marketing from all medical schools, hospitals and academic medical centers, physicians will be able to go back to practicing evidence-based medicine."

Launched in 2002, AMSA's PharmFree Campaign teaches medical students how to ethically interact with the pharmaceutical industry. Earlier this year, AMSA released its PharmFree Scorecard, a first-of-it's-kind ranking of medical schools according to their pharmaceutical policies. AMSA remains one of the few national organizations to ban all pharmaceutical advertisements and sponsorships. National PharmFree Week is supported by The Medical Letter. For more information, visit www.pharmfree.org.

About the American Medical Student Association

The American Medical Student Association (AMSA), with more than a half-century history of medical student activism, is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Founded in 1950, AMSA is a student-governed, non-profit organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. With more than 68,000 members, including medical and premedical students, residents and practicing physicians, AMSA is committed to improving medical training as well as advancing the profession of medicine.

Posted: October 2007


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