Earlier this month about 40 medical students gathered on the steps of Harvard Medical School to call on the school to adopt a strong universal conflict of interest policy and to urge the state to maintain funding for an evidence-based prescription drug outreach and education program to physicians.
Dr. Arnold Relman, professor at Harvard Medical School who has studied relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and health care providers, praised students for being model medical professionals. He urged them to continue to make clear that they will do what’s best for the patient and not be influenced by marketing from drug manufacturers. He predicted that in the next few years there will be a clear consensus that there should be no financial association with industry or gift giving. He said that Harvard Medical School should be leading the way; instead other schools are ahead of them.
Dr. Brian Palmer, psychiatry resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, described how medical students have helped made industry’s direct to physician marketing a national issue. The American Medical Students Association (AMSA) has banned all pharmaceutical advertising from their events, while other professional organizations have not. It has cost the organization millions of dollars, but if medical students can achieve this, surely others can too.
After the rally, students delivered a letter to Harvard Medical School Jeffrey Dean Flier outlining their request, which was signed by 143 students and 70 faculty members. They also signed a letter to Governor Patrick urging full funding for an evidence-based prescription drug outreach and education program, which has been passed as part of a broad healthcare cost control bill (Chapter 305).