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MedCity morning read, Wednesday, March 4

A Harvard Medical School Student caused a stir four years ago that has grown into a movement against drug company involvement with medical faculty. Medical schools at Harvard and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are considering strengthening conflict-of-interest rules that guide doctor relationships with drug and medical device companies.

A Harvard Medical School student caused a stir four years ago that has grown into a movement against drug company involvement with medical faculty, according to the New York Times.

In 2005, Matt Zerden was shocked and appalled to discover that his pharmacology professor at Harvard Medical School was a paid consultant to 10 drug companies. “I felt really violated,” said Zerden, now a fourth-year student.

Now, more than 200 students and sympathetic faculty at the school are intent on exposing and curtailing the industry influence on their classrooms and laboratories, as well as those at Harvard’s 17 affiliated teaching hospitals and institutes, according to the Times.

Pressure on drug companies is coming from another direction, too. On Tuesday, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley asked drug maker Pfizer to provide details of his payments to at least 149 faculty members at Harvard Medical School, the Times reported. The ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee is investigating the drug industry’s influence on the practice of medicine.

As a result of the pressures, some academic medical centers are reconsidering their conflict-of-interest rules, according to FierceHealthcare. Harvard Medical School and the University of Wisconsin-Madison both are talking about strengthening the rules that guide doctor relationships with drug and medical device companies, according to stories in the Boston Globe and Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, respectively.

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