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Harvard Medical School rolls out new rules to stop its faculty from accepting bribes from Big Pharma

Tuesday, August 03, 2010 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: big pharma, bribes, health news

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(NaturalNews) It is common practice for medical professionals to accept gifts, free travel, meals and other forms of indirect compensation from drug companies and medical device manufacturers for giving speeches that endorse their products. But Harvard Medical School has now made a new rule that prohibits its 11,000 faculty members from engaging in this activity.

The school is also requiring that faculty who consult with drug companies, join their boards and work with them in any other ways, report all income over $5,000 publicly. The school is promising to keep a better watch on the relationships that its faculty has with drug and medical device companies as well.

"We're anxious to be viewed publicly as doing what's in the best interest of our patients," explained Dr. Robert Mayer, co-chairman of the committee responsible for Harvard's new policy.

According to both Dr. Mayer and Dr. Jeffrey Flier, dean of Harvard's Medical School, faculty will still be allowed to work with such companies to perform industry-funded research, as well as be paid to sit on scientific advisory boards.

The new rules were spurred by Senator Charles Grassley's (R-IA) recent investigation concerning Harvard physicians who allegedly broke federal and medical school conflict-of-interest rules. Harvard has responded by proposing the new rules which are designed to improve its image in the view of the public.

A recent Boston Globe article about the new policy explains that Dr. Mayer's intent with the new rules is that they "are designed to keep doctors from becoming -- or being perceived as -- marketing agents for industry." So it is difficult to ascertain whether anything will actually change, or whether it will simply be perceived as changing.

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