You'd expect to see students and professors here at the University of Nevada School of Medicine.
But in years' past, a pharmaceutical representative might be just as common. Handing out pens and pads, a drug fair here or there-- in July 2004 administration here decided to put an end to that. Dean John McDonald explains it this way. "Who would think you wold prescribe a drug because you had a ballpoint pen with somebody's name on it, or you had received doughnut and some coffee. Well, in fact this influences human behavior. "
The medical school isn't the first in the country to be concerned about the influence of pharmaceutical companies
and medical students and residents. Just last year an article in The Journal of the American Medical Association called for academic medical centers to set up policies eliminating or modifying the common practice of gift giving, paying for continuing education and other methods used by pharmaceutical companies. Some believe these practices will lead students and residents to eventually prescribe medications for their patients that are unnecessary, more expensive, or ineffective. Med student we talked to say they are also getting the message in certaiin classes. "It is counter-productive for example to prescribe a pharmaceutical the patient can't afford just because you might have gotten a gift from that company" says first year medical school student Jeff Raskin. Second year med school student Aaron Dickens says it goes to the heart of thinking for yourself. " Be as objective as possible and not just rely on everything the pharmaceutical reps have to say."
. Administrators hope the education here will translate in better care for patients where doctors rely on their own knowledge and expertise to come up with the best treatment plan.