Harvard Med School Students Push for Stricter Conflict of Interest Policy

We blogged an earlier version of this story back in November: Research, Teaching, and Conflict of Interest. It was a story about a student-led movement go get Harvard Med School to tighten up its conflict of interest policy.

It was a student story in a student paper, back then. Now, it’s hitting the big leagues.

The latest version is here, from the New York Times: Harvard Medical School in Ethics Quandary.

In a first-year pharmacology class at Harvard Medical School, Matt Zerden grew wary as the professor promoted the benefits of cholesterol drugs and seemed to belittle a student who asked about side effects.

Mr. Zerden later discovered something by searching online that he began sharing with his classmates. The professor was not only a full-time member of the Harvard Medical faculty, but a paid consultant to 10 drug companies, including five makers of cholesterol treatments.

Knowing that the revision of Harvard’s COI policy is something students are pushing for is heartening; it’s great seeing young professionals recognizing, and reacting to, a threat to the integrity of their profession. Of course, knowing that it’s not faculty that are pushing for change is equally disheartening.

Relevant Books:
White Coat: Becoming A Doctor At Harvard Medical School, by Ellen Rothman.
Ethics and the University, by Michael Davis
Conflict of Interest in American Public Life, by Andrew Stark

~ by Nancy Walton on March 5, 2009.

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