Support for the Continued Interaction Between Medicine and Industry at Harvard Medical School sign now

To: The Deans of Harvard Medical School

Dear Dean Flier and Members of the Administration of Harvard Medical School,

The interaction between physicians and the pharmaceutical and medical device industries is an essential component of modern medicine. For decades, this interface has been crucial to the development of new therapies and technologies that have emerged from the dialogue between the medical community and industry.

Furthermore, pharmaceutical companies and the medical device industry present one important source of information for doctors and medical students among many. While they are for-profit entities with an ultimate responsibility to their shareholders and directors, these industries are involved in the fundamental progress of medicine. We believe that any efforts to significantly limit interactions of students and faculty with industry representatives will hinder progress and shut off an important source of information and mode of communication.

We do not question that these sources present inherently biased sources of information. However, there are ultimately no unbiased sources of information out there в every publication and every study will have some degree of bias. Therefore, to attempt to shut off one important source of information is unreasonable and indeed irreconcilable with this fact. Many current practices, including pharmaceutical samples and drug formularies, site access by industry representatives, industry sponsored programs, and funding for continuing medical education, can all be useful means of interaction between the industry and the medical community when conducted in a monitored and regulated fashion. In shutting off this mode of communication, we as members of the medical community would be eschewing our responsibility to critically evaluate all sources of information.

There is little doubt that information from pharmaceutical companies and the medical device industry has led to misguided decision making by physicians. Regulation and monitoring is an important part of the solution. However, the larger problem here is a lack of training and education in the proper evaluation and use of medical information. Education about how to use and process information is what is essential. All physicians, from their days as medical students onwards, should be trained on the use and evaluation of information. Given that we can never eliminate all sources of biased information, this is the only long term solution to this problem. In order to properly gain these skills, we must actively engage with the pharmaceutical industry and all sources of information from our very earliest days in training in the medical field.

Ultimately, the interactions between physicians and the medical industry have led to great progress over the past century. These interactions will continue to be an important means of progress and development on both sides. Any attempt to isolate ourselves from the pharmaceutical and medical device industries would remove an important means of communication, interaction, and feedback between medicine and industry. It is in recognition of these facts that we ask you to take a strong stance in support of continued interactions with the medical industries. We firmly believe that this is in the best interest of Harvard Medical School and its students.

Thank you very much.

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Glenna PrestonBy:
School and EducationIn:
Petition target:
Harvard Medical School Administration

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