Dr. Stossel Sounds Off


Thomas Stossel, MD, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, has released another opinionated piece this week on academics’ conflicts of interest. It appears in this week’s British Medical Journal. Like his previous rants, this one combines tangentiality, circumstantial thinking, illogical thinking, false assumptions, smears, insults, and the demonizing of those with contrary opinions. Roy Poses did an excellent job of exposing Stossel’s rhetorical smoke and mirrors, so I will not belabor this point.

The central pathology in Dr. Stossel’s rant is his denial or minimization of current ethical problems in academic-corporate relationships in medicine. If he wishes to be taken seriously, he should familiarize himself with case studies of the corporate corruption of medicine. Contrary to Stossel’s assertion that these problems don’t exist, here is a link that describes the corruption of a major journal by key opinion leaders in cahoots with Pharma executives: http://hcrenewal.blogspot.com/2008/01/antipsychotic-drugs-for-depression.html . Every sleazy deceit in the book was in play here.

There are similar problems in continuing medical education events that are funded by drug and device corporations. See here: http://hcrenewal.blogspot.com/2008/01/variations-on-theme-of-sleaze.html

The main player in these unsavory instances is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. This individual is an ethical recidivist who has been outed multiple times for failure to disclose salient conflicts of interest; who was forced to resign the editorship of a major medical journal; and who was forced to retract false statements that favored his corporate clients (otherwise known as shilling). Dr. Stossel notwithstanding, the rest of us are appalled by such tastelessly venal spectacles at the highest level of American medicine. Is it any wonder that the likes of Dr. Stossel are viewed as challenged?