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A little New Year’s prognostication from Arnold Relman, who’s talking about escalating conflicts of interest at American medical schools — as in professors who have divided loyalties between corporate profits and scientific integrity.

The New York Times reports a little action on this front, with a couple of Harvard-affiliated research hospitals tightening their corporate board policies:

… Senior officials at the two hospitals, Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals in Boston, must limit their pay for serving as outside directors to what the policy calls “a level befitting an academic role” — no more than $5,000 a day for actual work for the board. Some had been receiving more than $200,000 a year. Also, they may no longer accept stock.

… Partners HealthCare is also forbidding speaker’s fees from drug companies for any employee, including nearly 8,000 with Harvard faculty appointments. Some other medical schools have taken similar actions in prohibiting faculty members from being paid by drug companies to speak about their products.

… Stock and options were banned because they tie the director’s fortunes to company profits…

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6 Responses to ““Academic institutions are going to lose the confidence of the country and the government and they will no longer deserve the tax exemption or anything else. They will be part of industry itself.””

  1. RJO Says:

    Another dimension of the same generational problem: the higher education bubble.

  2. david foster Says:

    Completely missing from the remarks of the university president quoted at the WP link: Any idea that *he* and his counterparts might have some work to do to reduce unnecessary costs. It’s all “gimme, gimme, gimme.”

    As I observed in my post fisking Fish’s fishy financial findings:

    College administrators do not have an unlimited claim on the assets of the people of this country

  3. GTWMA Says:

    “How many universities have taken a really hard-nosed approach to driving down these costs? How many have employed truly flinty-hearted purchasing agents, such as one might find at General Motors…”

    Not really sure that GM is really the model of fiscal responsibility for universities to emulate.

  4. david foster Says:

    GM is not a model of fiscal responsibility, but that doesn’t mean they did everything wrong. Automotive industry purchasing agents are famous for squeezing suppliers for the last nickel.

  5. University Diaries » “The AAUP-UW also cited a public-relations problem, saying both the provost and Emmert — who sits on two corporate boards — already earn ‘excessive’ salaries and are bringing ‘harmful public attention Says:

    […] recently noted the decision of a group of Harvard-affiliated hospitals to bar professors on corporate boards from receiving stock, and in other ways to limit the hundreds of thousands of dollars in […]

  6. One Small Step Towards Reducing Conflicts of Interest Affecting Academic Medical Leaders | Health is a Gift! | Health, Medicine, Disaseas, Cures, Fitness, Women Health, Men Health Says:

    […] (4 January, 2010) – see also comments by Professor Margaret Soltan on University Diaries, Merrill Goozner on the GoozNews blog, and Dr Howard Brody on the Hooked: Ethics, Medicine and […]

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