If Big Pharma is squeezed out at Harvard Medical School, it will have the students to thank. What began as unease on the part of a few students has now grown into a movement encompassing hundreds of students and some faculty at the prestigious institution--precisely because they fear the prestige may be leaking away as industry influence grows.
In a New York Times profile today, Harvard's activist students say that the school should be "embarrassed" by the "F" it recently received from the American Medical Student Association for its monitoring and control of drug industry money. And, the paper notes, they were able to get the university to require professors and lecturers to disclose their industry ties in class. One prof's listed 47 company relationships.
Despite the difficulties inherent to Harvard--its teaching hospitals are independent, for instance--tighter disclosure requirements and greater restrictions on industry are in the offing. "Harvard needs to live up to its name," said Kirsten Austad, 24, a first-year Harvard Medical student who is one of the movement's leaders. "We are really being indoctrinated into a field of medicine that is becoming more and more commercialized."
- read the NYT story