In response to the proposed return of its free doctor's kits by 45 Harvard medical students, Eli Lilly and Company has issued a statement defending its policy.
Because of exams in the Medical School the kits were not returned yesterday as planned, and will be returned today to Lilly's Boston office. The Boston office refused to comment on the action, and inquiries were referred to the main office in Indianapolis. There Henry F. DeBoest, vice president of Corporate Affairs, said:
"For many years we have given basic medical instruments to students as a mark of our appreciation for their willingness to undertake the long, difficult road to an education as a physical. The instruments have been offered with the prior approval of the medical schools. Over the years, most students have accepted them gratefully.
"In recent months, on several campuses, a minority of medical students has been making headlines by public pronouncements rejecting gifts. It is our feeling that if a gift is unacceptable all that is really needed is a polite 'no thank you.'"
Med Students Reply
Andrew S. Binder and Richard S. Pohl, second-year students, who organized the action at the Medical School, said last night that the students had accepted the gifts without knowing what it entailed and thus had missed the chance to refuse them. The students involved, they believe, in no way mean to be ungrateful.
The action was made public, Binder said, because the Harvard medical students want to raise the issue of the possible unethical aspects of the gifts on other campuses. Consumers are affected by their doctors' decisions and by the price of drugs and therefore ought to know about the matter, he said.
Pohl emphasized that the Lilly Company in its statement admitted the feelings of gratitude that naturally arise in the students' accepting gifts. He had denounced these feelings as possibly serving to "undermine the critical objectivity which must underly the medical and economic decisions of prescription-writing" in the letter to the press that made the current controversy public