One-fifth of the 149 U.S. medical schools improved their pharmaceutical conflict-of-interest policies in the last year, according to the 2009 American Medical Student Association PharmFree Scorecard, out today. Still, many lag behind – dozens of schools received Ds or Fs for the second year.

The AMSA PharmFree Scorecard (, developed with the Pew Prescription Project, is a rigorous tool to measure how schools are doing at regulating the influence of pharmaceutical marketing on medical education.  The Scorecard offers a comprehensive national overview, as well as an in-depth, school-by-school analysis in 11 areas, including gifts and meals from industry to doctors, paid promotional speaking for industry, acceptance of free drug samples, interaction with sales representatives and industry-funded education.

Forty-five institutions, close to one-third, now have grades of A or B. This is a substantial increase over 29 A and B schools (19 percent) in 2008. So what does that mean for all those white coats-in-training? Good news:  Approximately 30 percent of medical students in the U.S. are now studying at an A or B school.

More good news? Medical schools are taking notice: The Scorecard had an 88 percent participation rate this year.

Here’s the press release, where you can get the 10,000-foot view. But for those of you who like trends, charts, and cool floating phantom maps, the executive summary of the Scorecard is a must-read, providing a closer look at trends across the nation and within individual areas of reform from year to year. For instance, many Maryland and California schools excelled, and if there were a “Most Improved” award, Texas would be up for it: Half of its eight med schools received an A or B this year, compared to just two in 2008.

For more, check out the Scorecard here.