Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Students at Harvard Gain National Press Coverage with Protest

This story has been unfolding for a while and I regret being too busy with my day job to get to it till now.

It began with a story in the New York Times: (very kindly first sent to me by a Harvard student who said he reads this blog regularly). The story reports the activism of a group of students who have become pretty concerned with the heavy dose of pharmaceutical industry influence they get along with their med shcool classes, due to a policy that gained Harvard an F on the American Medical Students' Association report card for allowing nearly unrestricted pharmaceutical industry influence and gifts. The article also provided the interesting news that there is a smaller rival student group that has emerged to defend Pharma's role in medical education, at least partially egged on by the numerous Harvard faculty (estimated 18 percent of total) who are "on the take" from industry.

The story grew considerable legs and later the same week made it into Time:,8599,1883449,00.html. The good news is that Dr. David Korn, who helped to craft the strict AAMC policy on limiting Pharma influence as dean at Stanford, is now vice provost for research at Harvard and is aiding the creation of a new, stricter conflict of interest policy. The bad news for Harvard is that Sen. Charles Grassley wants to know not only about the details of 149 Harvard faculty who appear to have received payments from Pfizer, but also why that drug firm had a staffer taking photos of the med students at Harvard who protested against Pharma influence (see the Grassley letter at

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