Bitter Pills: Harvard Medical School and Big Pharma
Harvard officials are betting that’s the case. This past spring, a 19-member committee handpicked by the HMS dean began meeting behind closed doors to figure out exactly what it is that most people agree on. (Neither Angell nor Stossel is part of the group.) In the next few months, the committee will publish a report prescribing how to address HMS’s relationship with pharma, essentially deciding how much influence the industry should be allowed to have over the school’s next generation of doctors. Plus, any new policy recommendation will likely have wide-ranging consequences: As Harvard goes, so go medical schools around the country.
So far, though, the committee is moving slowly. "It hasn’t found that there are big gaps in the current policy that need to be addressed emergently," says a source who has knowledge of the group’s deliberations. "But it wants a policy that will last for the next 20 years." Given that Harvard is going to be tangled up with Big Pharma for those 20 years in one way or another, a cautious approach will probably emerge. But that’s also sure to do at least one thing: continue to outrage both Angell and Stossel.