May 23rd, 2011

Stanford Disciplines Faculty For Pharma Ties


Stanford University has disciplined five faculty members at its medical school for violating school policy by giving paid promotional speeches for drugmakers, according to ProPublica, which a few months ago wrote that Stanford was one of several teaching hospitals that failed to enforce their own conflict-of-interest rules. At the time, more than a dozen faculty members were identified as paid speakers.

Paul Costello, a Stanford spokesman, declined to name the disciplined faculty members or discuss their penalties. But in a written statement, he told ProPublica that the “actions are significant” and have or could impact the doctors’ compensation or positions.

In a note to faculty last December, medical school dean Paul Pizzo wrote that a preliminary investigation suggests that “some of the individuals (cited by ProPublica) had understandable reasons for confusion about Stanford’s policies and have already addressed them and ceased activities like speakers’ bureau participation. Others, though, offered explanations why their activities continued that are difficult if not impossible to reconcile with our policy, and here we have concerns.”

The move reflects increasing concern that interactions between pharma and academic researchers may unduly influence research and the way medicine is practiced. In response to growing scrutiny, such as a regular scorecard issued by the American Medical Student Association, more med schools have begun adopting or strengthening their conflicts policies.

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