Monday, March 9

Professor Biases

Harvard medical school students recently spoke out against their professors when they noticed reluctance to discuss pitfalls of using certain drugs. It turned out that some of their professors were in the pockets of several major drug companies. In my opinion this is appalling. For some reason I never really thought much about the influence that big business has on our universities. At least I never considered it influencing the way a professor may teach their classes. In light of this scandal, it prompted a new state law that requires declaration of all “corporate gifts” over $50. This is a step in the right direction but the problem is clearly unsolved. This article is worth taking a look at.

1 comment:

  1. This is quite a damning evidence against medical institutions (not just Harvard) being colluded with private companies. But, before we focus our attention against Harvard I think we should look at the bigger picture of how private institutions (pharmaceutical companies and other industries) have infiltrated the medical community causing conflict of interests and also our society.

    For instance (since this particular case is on drug companies) it is a well known fact in medical schools that irrespective of whom (patients or amongst colleagues) you talk to medical professionals are not (ethically) supposed to use brand names (eg, Ibuprofen) but instead generic names (eg, NSAIDS: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) of respective pharmacological agent. For example, if a patient requires antidepressant (say, Prozac kind of drug) doctors are supposed to mention to the patient and also write in the prescription just the generic name, SSRI selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor) and then it becomes the responsibility of the licenced drug store to give the drug of that particular family. However, the evidence that most people use the term Prozac synonymous with antidepressants tell us the gullibility of common people for easier, catchy words so much so that even medical professionals now use trade names in place of the generic names. Since the use of trade names have become sort of a norm even within the medical professions and with their positions (for treating and influencing prescriptions) it is not surprising that these manufacturers have targeted them more so in the case of a prestigious institution such as Harvard. It therefore, would be naive of us to consider this to be just a one-off case because the level of interests (funding etc..) in an institution just might differ depending on the positions of these institutions.

    Since, this is one of the major issues of medical ethics I was surprised that rather than the medical community (like AMA), the government took the initiative following senate investigations. This also gives us a picture of level of collusion amongst the medical professional and the corporate companies to an extant such that the leader of the group, Vijay Yanamadala, 22, said, “To say that because these industry sources are inherently biased, physicians should never listen to them, is wrong.”


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