A story in The Washington Post raised a few eyebrows in the medical and academic communities this week. Morton Mintz, in the November 23 edition of The Post, revealed that Robert H. Ebert, dean of the Medical School, had testified before an FDA committee in his capacity as a consultant for Squibb Beechnut, Inc.
Ebert and Lewis Thomas, dean of the Yale Medical School, both testified October 13 before the FDA in defense of Mysteclin-F, a fixed combination anti-infection drug manufactured by the pharmaceutical division of Squibb.
In spite of Ebert's pro-Mysteclin testimony, the FDA decided to prohibit the sale of the commonly prescribed drug. The FDA had nearly withdrawn the drug in 1969 after a National Academy of Sciences. National Research Council panel declared Mysteclin-F to be ineffective.
Mintz's story suggested that Ebert's testimony on Squibb's behalf revived conflict of interest charges made three years ago by 19 second-year Harvard med students.
The 19 students sent a letter to The Crimson in October 1969 which criticized Ebert's ties with Squibb. The letter said that Evert, then a director of Squibb, could not instruct his medical students on sensible prescription practices while advising a major manufacturer of brand-name drugs.
Ebert resigned his directorship, but returned to Squibb as a consultant later that year at the request of Squibb president Robert Furlaud.