Revisions to Harvard Medical School's conflict of interest policy, which include bans on faculty members participating in industry speaker bureaus and on faculty receiving personal gifts from industry sources, have been accepted by Dean Jeffrey Flier and will be phased in over the course of 2011.
Harvard tightens restrictions on med school faculty
The new policy includes a prohibition on research project sponsorship for private companies in which a faculty member holds equity. For public companies, limited sponsorship is allowed if a faculty member's interest in the firm is not more than $30,000.
Under the revised policy, faculty can still consult for industry; found biotechnology companies; license technology to or from drug, device or biotechnology companies; and serve on advisory boards for these companies.
Disclosure of faculty financial interests will be posted on an HMS website, and a $10,000 annual limit has been set on earnings a faculty member may receive from a relevant business.
An existing policy that shields students from drug, device and supply company sales representatives was reinforced, but biomedical company representatives who are invited on campus by faculty or staff are allowed to provide training and education to students on the use of their products.
The revised policy “not only meets the requirements of Harvard's new university policy on financial conflicts of interest, but also exceeds them in many key areas,” said Harvard University Provost Steven Hyman in a news release. “Dean Flier and his committee have set a terrific example for the rest of Harvard's schools to consider as they craft their own implementations of the university policy.”
The committee who developed the revisions included 34 faculty members, administrators and students who said they tried to seek a balance that ensured transparency and public confidence, while recognizing that collaboration between the school's faculty and with industry is “a fundamental part of its mission to facilitate scientific discoveries and clinical translation that will alleviate human suffering caused by disease.”
“We have attempted to resist the natural tendency for immediate reaction to public pressure to appease critics,” the policy preamble stated, “endeavoring instead to give each complex issue the thoughtful and deliberate analysis it deserves and to carefully consider the realities within which our recommendations are issued.”
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