June 24,2009

Grassley seeks information about medical school policies for disclosure of financial ties

WASHINGTON --- Senator Chuck Grassley has asked 23 medical schools for information about their policies for conflicts of interest and requirements for disclosure of financial relationships between faculty members and the drug industry.

Grassley sent his request to the 23 educational institutions that did not respond to an earlier request made by the American Medical Student Association for the same information. In that case, the schools reportedly replied to a survey by answering either “no response” or “decline to submit policies.” Of the 149 schools asked, 126 provided information to the student association.

“There’s a lot of skepticism about financial relationships between doctors and drug companies,” Grassley said. “Disclosure of those ties would help to build confidence that there’s nothing to hide. Requiring disclosure is a common sense reform based on the public dollars and public trust at stake in medical training, medical research and the practice of medicine.”

Grassley has been working to achieve uniform and universal disclosure of the money that pharmaceutical, medical device and biologic companies give to physicians. He has conducted extensive oversight of financial relationships, especially among doctors who conduct research with the $24 billion awarded annually in federal grants by the National Institutes of Health. Institutions receiving these federal dollars are required to track financial relationships, but Grassley has found enforcement of those requirements often to be either lax or in violation. Grassley also has sponsored reform legislation that would require payments from the drug industry to be publicly reported. Senator Herb Kohl is the cosponsor of the “Physician Payments Sunshine Act,” S.301.

The 23 schools receiving Grassley’s letter are: the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine, Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, University of Florida College of Medicine, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Albany Medical College, Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, Howard University College of Medicine, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Louisiana State University School of Medicine - New Orleans, Meharry Medical College, Morehouse School of Medicine, New York College of Osteopathic Medicine of the New York Institute of Technology, Ponce School of Medicine, San Juan Bautista School Of Medicine, University at Buffalo School of Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry New Jersey - New Jersey Medical School, University of South Carolina School of Medicine. The text of the letter is below.