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Exercise and a Good Harvard Prof.

Watch this video. It's calming, Important, and actionable.

I have a very short list of Harvard people I trust(ed): Dr. Trempe, Dr. McCully, Dr. Arnold Relman, and now Dr. Stark. We can add Dr. Daniel Lieberman, a renowned researcher in human evolutionary biology and a Professor at Harvard University. In the video above, he discusses the profound impact of exercise on our health and longevity.

Here is some content I included in my book, "The End of Alzheimer's," that explains some of my negativity towards the University. And it has nothing to do with the competition between MIT and Harvard. I also have respect for some of the work coming out of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Relman, Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine won me over with the following quote.

“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research,” says Arnold Relman, a Harvard professor and former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, whose recent critique of the industry's influence in health care, published in the New Republic, won him and his co-author one of the top awards for magazine journalism in the United States. “The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it's disgraceful.[i]

[i] Moynihan, Ray. "Who pays for the pizza? Redefining the relationships between doctors and drug companies. 1: Entanglement." Bmj 326.7400 (2003): 1189-1192.


A pharmaceutical executive states, “A physician's prescribing value is a function of the opportunity to prescribe, plus his or her attitude toward prescribing, along with outside influences. By building these multiple dimensions into physicians' profiles, it is possible to understand the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of their behavior.”

HERE is another quote - self serving maybe - because it is mine in response to the one above.

"Too bad healthcare providers do not use sophisticated methodology like this to diagnose and treat patients."

From my book:

Interestingly, the interactions between drug companies and medicine appear most involved at the highest levels of academia and medical education. An article titled, “Harvard Medical School in Ethics Quandary,” in the New York Times by Duff Wilson in 2009 sheds light on this conundrum. [i]

According to the article, at a first-year pharmacology class at Harvard Medical School, a student grew wary as the professor promoted the benefits of cholesterol drugs and seemed to belittle a student who asked about side effects. A little research by the student revealed the professor was not only a full-time member of the Harvard Medical faculty, but a paid consultant to 10 drug companies, including five makers of cholesterol treatments. This finding led the student to question the integrity of his education from Harvard, often thought of as the premier medical school in the world.

 “I felt really violated,” a student said, as quoted in the article. “Here we have 160 open minds trying to learn the basics in a protected space, and the information he was giving wasn’t as pure as I think it should be.”

Some Harvard Medical School students and a few faculty members started a campaign to stop outside influences in their classrooms and laboratories, as well as in Harvard’s 17 affiliated teaching hospitals and institutes. They say they are concerned that the same money that helped build the school’s world-class status may in fact be hurting its reputation and affecting its teaching.

The American Medical Student Association gave Harvard a grade of F based on how well medical schools monitor and control drug industry money. Harvard Medical School’s peers received much higher grades, ranging from the A for the University of Pennsylvania, to Bs received by Stanford, Columbia, and New York University, to a C for Yale. An unofficial excuse came from Harvard claiming the problem occurred because its teaching hospitals are not owned by the university, complicating reform because the dean is fairly new and his predecessor was such an industry booster that he served on a pharmaceutical company board, and because a crackdown, simply put, could cost it money or faculty.

The Harvard students have already secured a requirement that all professors and lecturers disclose their industry ties in class, a blanket policy that has been adopted by no other leading medical school. One Harvard professor’s disclosure in class listed 47 company affiliations.

The students at Harvard leading the charge against drug company indoctrination say they worry that pharmaceutical industry scandals, including some criminal convictions, billions of dollars in fines, proof of bias in research, and publishing and false marketing claims impact their future ability to serve patients. These types of activities have cast a bad light on the medical profession.

The school said it was unable to provide annual measures of the money flow to its faculty beyond the $8.6 million that pharmaceutical companies contributed last year for basic science research and the $3 million for continuing education classes on campus. Most of the money goes to professors at the Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals, and the dean’s office does not keep track of the total.

Harvard Medical faculty members receive tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year through industry consulting and speaking fees. Under the school’s disclosure rules, about 1,600 of 8,900 professors and lecturers have reported to the dean that they or a family member had a financial interest in a business related to their teaching, research or clinical care. The reports show 149 with financial ties to Pfizer and 130 with Merck. The rules, though, do not require them to report specific amounts received for speaking or consulting, other than broad indications like “more than $30,000.”

Dr. Jean Haddad wrote an interesting paper that was published in the San Francisco Medical Society website. It was titled, “The Pharmaceutical Industry's Influence on Physician Behavior and Health Care Costs.”

“The development of new drugs and therapies is responsible for improving health and longevity. Yet, these improvements in health care have been accompanied by a dramatic increase in cost. The National Institute for Healthcare Management found that U.S. spending on prescription drugs went from $111.1 billion to $131.9 billion in one year, an increase of $20.8 billion (18.8 percent). The bulk of the increase was due to spending on a relatively small group of drugs. Increases in the sales of 23 drugs accounted for 50.7 percent of the 20.8 billion.

The NIHCM concluded that the overall increase in prescriptions and especially the shift toward use of costlier and newer drugs. These are the drugs, statistically, that are causing the most harm.”

[i] Wilson, Duff. "Harvard Medical School in ethics quandary." The New York Times 2 (2009).


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