Medical students around the nation will hold the first annual "National PharmFree Day" Dec. 8 to protest the continuing influence of drug-company salespeople on medical students and physicians.
The American Medical Student Association, which is sponsoring the event, will hold a ceremony at New York University to dispose of a small mountain of pharmaceutical marketing materials it has been collecting over the last few months, symbolizing an effort by its 50,000 members to shed what many view as the manipulative effects of an army of about 90,000 free-spending drug salespeople.
"With convincing evidence that marketing shapes prescribing habits, it is time that medical students and the medical community as a whole examine their relationship with the pharmaceutical industry," said Brian Palmer, M.D., president of the Reston, Va.-based student association.
The organization has been active in recent years in campaigns such as "No Free Lunch," an effort to discourage students from accepting the food that is routinely provided by drug-company salespeople. Officials say the latest effort is aimed at promoting "honesty, integrity, humility and accountability in medical education."