Medical education underlined by high standards

Pharmaceutical companies have no direct involvement in the medical program of the School of Medicine, Griffith University.

Head of School of Medicine at Griffith University, Professor Simon Broadley says a decision was taken early in the development of the School that pharmaceutical and surgical equipment companies should play no role in supporting or determining the content of the medical education of our future prescribing doctors.

“Students are educated about potential conflicts of interest and the potential influence of the pharmaceutical industry on their future prescribing,” Professor Broadley said.

How doctors can be compromised by accepting commercial hospitality is described to medicine students during their course work at Griffith. So too are potential conflicts of interest in the area of research ethics and undue influencing of physicians.

Students also study professional misconduct, and are trained on the regulations, behaviours and obligations associated with a respected professional practice.

The School of Medicine insists on the use of generic drug names and none of its educational activities or resources is sponsored by pharmaceutical companies.

“In all problem-based learning cases, case histories studied in a facilitated learning framework, we have systematically removed reference to drug brand names and replaced these with neutral compound names.”

While the School has no formal conflict-of-interest policy in place, a policy that “reflects the high standards already being applied” will be implemented after its full and considered development.

The School of Medicine proposes the policy be developed in conjunction with MDANZ and the Health Group.

Professor Broadley welcomed the efforts of Dr Paul Mason, Royal Melbourne Hospital, and Professor Martin Tattersall, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in highlighting this important issue in recent research.

Their study concluded that Australia’s 20 medical schools lacked the robust polices of schools in the United States.

“Their results don’t reflect our actual awareness and ethical consideration of these issues within the School of Medicine at Griffith University,” Professor Broadley said.

“Griffith University takes the issue of potential conflicts of interest very seriously. We recognise the need for relationships between pharmaceutical companies and research teams to promote drug discovery and clinical application.”

Griffith University has existing policies which address the issues surrounding the interaction of academics involved in research and industry partners as well as the receipt of gifts.

The Gifts and Benefits Policy sets out the conditions under which personal gifts may be accepted or given by members of the University.