Stossel's crusade for conflict of interest


Thomas Stossel, the American Cancer Society Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, is spearheading a new nonprofit professional organization that is, according to Stossel's preliminary description, "to be a forum for what we believe is a hitherto silent majority of individuals engaged in clinical service, medical education and medical innovation ready to oppose a small but well organized and well-funded coterie responsible for an anti-industry movement.”

There’s nothing like those well-funded critics.
I heard Stossel speak a few years ago, at a conference of publication planners. He opened his remarks by saying, “My message to you is … stop with the integrity crap, OK, and
let's fight back. So I'm never coming back here if we have any more trust and integrity trust-athon events again."
What’s wrong with integrity, you ask? It gets in the way of productive interactions between physicians and industry, the type of thing that Stossel’s new organization ACRE (Association of Clinical Researchers and Educators) is going to promote. In the talk I heard, he argued that what most people call conflict of interest is a good thing -- using graphs that showed cardiovascular deaths declining over the years, in step with industry advances.
Is this what they teach at the Harvard Medical School? Are we to take a correlation like that as evidence of anything at all? In the same period, wine consumption rose, just as did oil prices and Velcro use.