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Medical schools in the US have better, but not great, conflict of interest policies in place, according to a new study from Columbia University researchers in Academic Medicine. They examined the policies of some 127 medical schools and scored them based on established recommendations as permissive, moderate, or stringent, and compared them to previous scores. Average policy scores, they found, increased for all areas, except continuing medical education.

"The findings reveal an extraordinary transformation over a three-year period, with many more stringent policies in place now than in 2008, the researchers led by Columbia's David Rothman write. "Without question, however, room for improvement remains."

While stringent policies for ghostwriting now appear to be the norm — though some schools still lacked policies in that area — other aspects like consulting, honoraria, and speakers’ bureaus do not have as strong policies overall.

Ed Silverman at Pharmalot notes that "[h]ospital ownership and public or private status had no impact [on policy strength], but schools with greater funding from the National Institutes of Health were more likely to have stricter policies than those with less funding."