At a recent health care conference I attended, we were casually told by our lecturer, a PhD of psychology, that Big Pharma literally owned the medical schools....
National Public Radio did a piece on a survey it connected to examine the connection between med schools and pharmaceutical companies. The following is from a summary of that piece:
...The informal survey was done by searching financial information on the Internet and through phone interviews. It found that between 2 percent and 16 percent of medical schools' yearly budgets come from the drug industry. The survey included budgets for fiscal 2003 and 2004....Though our survey could not establish the full scope of industry funding at medical schools, it's important to note that some institutions get very little money from industry. Washington University Medical Center, for example, ranks second in federal health funding. But it gets just 1.9 percent of its budget from drug makers and other health-industry sources....
According to the American Medical Student Association, med schools rely on a variety of sources for funding. Here's AMSA's stats for all med schools for the 2001-2002 academic year:
Practice Plans: 36.0%
Hospitals/Medical School Programs: 12.5%
Federal Appropriations: 0.3%
State and Local Government Appropriations: 7.1%
Parent University Support: 0.6%
Tuition and Fees: 3.3%
Miscellaneous Sources: 4.1%
Total Grants and Contracts: 31.7%
One huge source of funding for med school professors and research is the National Institute of Health. Here's some of its funding numbers by school for 2004:
Med school and NIH award amounts
Johns Hopkins: $449,470,782
U of Penn: $393,623,671
Washington U (in St. Louis): $371,719,472
U of Washington: $307,873,069
Even Mercer, ranked 123d in terms of NIH funding, received $1,244,964 in 2004.
Here's a breakdown of funding for one particular school, the University of Minnesota Medical School, which has had financial problems in the past:
- 35.5% from affiliated physicians' practices
- 35.5% from what it calls "non-sponsored sources" and lists these as the state of MN (8.4%), tuition (4.6%), indirect cost recovery (3.4%), hospitals (8.5%), gifts (4%), and "all other" (4.6%)
-29% from sponsored research (this includes research funded by the state of MN, which has provided more than $30 million in research dollars; a partnership with Fairview Health Services, a private, non-pharmaceutical company; and a partnership with the Mayo Clinic for research in genetics and biotechnology). In 2004, the U of MN Med School received $135,622,274 from the NIH for research, ranking it 31st among med schools for such awards.
I have also been told that they write most of the textbooks.
Let's look at some of the major medical textbooks:
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine - this is a classic in use across the country in medical practices, residencies, and med schools.
- Published by McGraw-Hill, a public company with no involvement in pharmaceuticals
- On Amazon, the list price is $145 and the offered price is $108.23.
- For the 16th edition, 6 authors were listed. These were Dennis L. Kasper, a professor at Harvard Medical School; Eugene Braunwald, another Harvard Med prof; Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease; Stephen Hauser, a professor at UC-San Francisco Medical Center; Dan Longo, a scientific director at the National Institute of Aging; and J. Larry Jameson, a professor at the Northwestern med school.
Rudolph's Fundamentals of Pediatrics: a book commonly used in med schools
- Also published by McGraw-Hill
- $72.95 from the publisher
- For the most recent edition, the authors were Abraham M. Rudolph, professor emeritus at UCSF; Robert K. Kamei, another UCSF professor; and Kim J. Overby, a medical care coordinator at Elwyn, a non-profit organization that serves people with disabilities.
The The Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics: a book often used in residencies
- published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
- Amazon cites a list price of $44.95 (it's cheap for a med book because it is spiral-bound) and offers it for $40.01
- For the most recent edition, the authors were the Washington School of Medicine's Department of Medicine and several of its professors.