On the eve of the Sunshine Act’s introduction, Newsweek revisits the sordid situation at university medical schools in regard to conflict of interest with big pharma. Starting in September, American consumers will have access to information about “all payments and other valuables given by Big Pharma to physicians and teaching hospitals.”

This blog has over the years covered so many greed-crazed COI’ers at so many university medical schools that you’d think UD just copies and pastes everything that shows up on Google News. In fact, she’s extremely selective, posting only about those stories involving arrant – sometimes fatal – disregard of patients, plus immense pharma payouts. She’d link you to a few of these stories right now, but they have a triggering effect on her.

Meanwhile, it’s good to keep in mind that med school COI mischief doesn’t stop with the stuff the Sunshine Act illuminates. Given last year’s bad publicity about George Washington University’s business school (this article, which summarizes events, also features the latest form of fallout), one might forget that in 2009 its med school was also in trouble — both on probation and headed by a

provost and vice president for health affairs, [who] also has received money and stock options for serving on the board of directors of Universal Health Services, which owns the university hospital.

Williams was paid nearly $680,000 in annual compensation by GWU, according to the university’s 2006 tax returns, its most recent, and UHS reported in Securities and Exchange Commission filings that he received compensation from the company that calendar year of $122,000, including stock options.

Because he has a stake in the company’s profitability, some at the school complained that Williams had no incentive to push for spending on new equipment and programs at the school. Others said it was not appropriate for Williams to be paid so well when the tax-exempt school is one of the most expensive in the country.

GWU leaders asked Williams to resign from the corporation board and this month accepted his resignation, effective by the end of the academic year.

Ain’t nuthin the Sunshine Act can do about this popular form of self-enrichment.

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