The U's med-ethics policy: One comparison

I wanted to lay some groundwork showing how the University of Minnesota’s conflict-of-interest policy has stood compared to others — before getting an idea of where it’s going.

So I consulted the American Medical Student Association’s scorecard to get an idea.

It’s not great.

The U’s policy scored a D in 2008. The association, however, bumped the U’s provisional grade to a C based on a draft of the revised policy submitted in 2009. For now, the official grade is merely an I, or In Process — kind of like getting an Incomplete, I suppose.

Here are AMSA’s notes on the U’s progress in the 2009 draft:

Most of the policies regulating conflict of interest at University of Minnesota Medical School demonstrate progress towards a model policy, but could be strengthened further. There are no policies regulating off-site educational events or pharmaceutical samples, and oversight and sanctions for noncompliance are not clearly established.

The U had “model policies” for disclosure as well as purchasing & formularies, but little or no known policy regarding industry sales reps, attendance at industry-sponsored lectures & off-campus events.

In the other areas — such as use of drug samples, industry-funded speaking relationships and consulting relationships — the U had “good progress toward model policy.”

Here’s how some Big 10 schools fared, along with a few others in the region:

University of Iowa: A

University of Michigan: B

Penn State: B

Ohio State: B

University of Wisconsin-Madison: B

Northwestern: C

University of Nebraska: C

Michigan State: I (Provisional grade was a C)

Indiana University: I (No provisional grade available.)

University of Kansas: B

Mayo Clinic: A

Nationally, of the 149 American medical schools surveyed, nine got As (6%), 36 Bs (24%), 18 Cs (12%), and 17 Ds (11%). Thirty-five schools (23%) got Fs — for having bad policies, no policies, or for refusing to participate.

A spokeswoman for AMSA said the U should be submitting its new policy later this month, and get its 2010 grade back later this year.

The scorecard was developed with the cooperation of The Pew Charitable Trusts.