In the 6 years I've been doing this blog (hard to believe), we've seen a number of successes in the struggle to free medicine from inappropriate entanglements with commercial interests, as well as a number of areas where progress if any is very slow. One great success has been the adoption of stricter policies by medical schools and academic medical centers--and a huge stimulus for this change has been the American Medical Student Association's scorecard for conflict of interest policies. These scorecards were an incredibly shrewd political statement--nothing like telling the dean of a med school that their place got an F on a "report card" to get his or her attention.
The latest round of scorecards is out and continues to show progress--see:
Particularly interesting is an interview with an associate dean at a brand-new med school, noting that they were able to build a strong COI policy from the ground up as they began operations thanks to the guidelines provided by the AMSA scorecard. This highlights the importance of generational change. As faculty and students who remember the bad old days when drug reps roamed the halls of academic centers liberally dispensing "free" lunches and other goodies recede into the past, and a new generation comes along for whom avoiding COI is simply the norm, things change, and complaints that used to be voiced suddenly are heard no more.