PLOS ONE, vol.11, no.12, 2016 (SCI-Expanded)
Interactions between drug companies and medical students may affect evidence-based medical practice and patient safety. The aim of this study was to assess drug company-medical student interactions in a medical faculty where limited specific national or institutional regulations apply between drug companies and medical students. The objectives of the study were to determine the exposure and attitudes of final year medical students in terms of drug company-medical student and physician interactions, to identify factors affecting those attitudes and to provide data for policymakers working on the regulation of interactions between drug companies and medical students. This anonymous questionnaire-based study of 154 medical final year medical students at the Karadeniz Technical University Medical Faculty, Trabzon, Turkey, in April and May 2015 attracted a response rate of 92.2% (n/N, 154/164). Exposure to interaction with a pharmaceutical representative was reported by 90.3% (139/ 154) of students, and 68.8% (106/154) reported experiencing such interaction alongside a resident. In addition, 83.7% (128/153) of students reported an interaction during internship. Furthermore, 69.9% (107/153) of students agreed that interactions influence physicians' prescription preferences, while 33.1% (51/154) thought that a medical student should never accept a gift from a drug company and 24.7% (38/154) agreed with the proposition that "drug companies should not hold activities in medical faculties". Students with rational prescription training expressed greater agreement with the statement "I am skeptical concerning the information provided by drug companies during interactions" than those who had not received such training, and this finding was supported by logistic regression [O.R.(C.I), p-3.7(1.2- 11.5), p = 0.022]. Acceptance of advertisement brochures was found to significantly reduce the level of agreement with the proposition that-A physician should not accept any gift from a drug company." (0.3[0.1-0.9], p = 0.030). In summary, exposure to drug companies was widespread among our final year medical students who, like students in both Western and non-Western societies, hold permissive attitudes concerning accepting gifts, and drug advertising brochures may relax those permissive attitudes still further. Rational prescription training was useful in generating rational attitudes. Policies concerning drug company-medical student relationships should be developed in Turkey as well as internationally.