« The Daily Concurs, I Guess It's Ten Percent, Bob? | Main | Hiring Pause, Thinking Freeze »

Portrait of the Professor As Child Maimer

OK, folks. This is the reason why we need to do something at our medical school about conflict of interest. In this case we want to be as unlike Harvard as possible.

From the website of the Carrie Nation of University Diarists - UD:

Consider then what must be the foulness of the air of hell. Imagine some foul and putrid corpse that has lain rotting and decomposing in the grave, a jelly-like mass of liquid corruption. Imagine such a corpse a prey to flames, devoured by the fire of burning brimstone and giving off dense choking fumes of nauseous loathsome decomposition. And then imagine this sickening stench, multiplied a millionfold and a millionfold again from the millions upon millions of fetid carcasses massed together in the reeking darkness, a huge and rotting human fungus. Imagine all this, and you will have some idea of the horror of the stench of hell.
Here we begin to approach the stench emanating from Harvard medical school, as its adored Joseph Biederman endures yet more exposure of his cruel greed.

Is UD’s language a tad nineteenth century? Well, it’s a Dickensian tale she has to tell… But she doesn’t like Dickens; she likes James Joyce, so she quotes him instead up there…

So, you know, here’s the latest, and it’s really gross.

When a Congressional investigation revealed in June that he had earned far more money from drug makers than he had reported to his university, Dr. Joseph Biederman, a world-renowned child psychiatrist, said that his “interests are solely in the advancement of medical treatment through rigorous and objective study.?

But e-mails and internal documents from Johnson & Johnson made public in a court filing reveal that Dr. Biederman pushed the company to fund a research center at Massachusetts General Hospital whose goal was “to move forward the commercial goals of J&J,? the documents state.

Dr. Biederman’s work helped to fuel a 40-fold increase from 1994 to 2003 in the diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder and a rapid rise in the use of powerful, risky and expensive antipsychotic medicines in children. Although many of his studies are small and often financed by drug makers, Dr. Biederman has had a vast influence on the field largely because of his position at one of the most prestigious medical institutions in the world.

The documents offer an unusual glimpse into the delicate relationship that drug makers have with influential doctors. In one November 1999 e-mail, John Bruins, a Johnson & Johnson marketing executive, begs his supervisors to approve a $3,000 check to Dr. Biederman in payment for a lecture he gave at the University of Connecticut.

“Dr. Biederman is not someone to jerk around,? Mr. Bruins wrote. “He is a very proud national figure in child psych and has a very short fuse.?

Mr. Bruins wrote that Dr. Biederman was furious after Johnson & Johnson rejected a request that Dr. Biederman had made to receive a $280,000 research grant. “I have never seen someone so angry,? Mr. Bruins wrote. “Since that time, our business became non-existant (sic) within his area of control.?


I could go on, but you get the idea. Please see UD's site if you want to see her commentary and have a strong stomach.

There is a conflict of interest policy under consideration at our medical school. It is far from perfect but is a start. It should be approved with all due haste and sent to the Board of Regents for their immediate approval. Further foot dragging on this matter is not acceptable.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)