Panaceia or Hygeia

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AstraZeneca pays medical students

Posted by Colin Rose on April 13, 2009

So it has finally come to this. It is not enough that drug dealers fund medical school faculties, now they are paying medical students. Anyone who thinks this donation to a bursary fund by one of the most aggressive drug marketers is not going to give them a lot of influence over drug policy in New Brunswick is very naive. Insidiously, the entire medical profession is becoming a marketing branch of drug dealers.

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Bursary program launched for med students

Cindy Wilson/Telegraph-Journal

Published Friday April 3rd, 2009

newbrunswick-az-photo

SAINT JOHN – The first donation Thursday to a new trust fund will allow two medical students to receive four years of free education at the Saint John medical school.

Mark Jones, president and CEO of AstraZeneca, said he hopes his company’s $500,000 donation will help kick-start the New Brunswick Medical Education Trust.

The aim is to raise enough money to pay for the education of 10 students per year. In return, the students will have to promise to stay and work in the province.

The New Brunswick Medical Education Trust was established Thursday afternoon when AstraZeneca Canada Inc., a pharmaceutical company, donated the first $500,000 toward the bursary program.

“The hardest donation to get is the first one,” said Mark Jones, president and CEO of AstraZeneca.

“Once you have somebody, it’s easier to bring others in. We just hope this donation will help kick-start this program.”

Dr. Donald Craig, chairman of the Medical Staff Organization of Zone 2, Regional Health Authority B, said the $500,000 was the first step in raising $15 million for a sustainable bursary program.

Craig said the money will be invested and the return on investment will pay the tuition for 10 medical students each year to study in the province

“We will pay the tuition for four years of medical school. We will probably find them summer work. If they are married, we will try to find their spouses jobs and in return we are asking for a service contract,” Craig said.

Craig said it has not been determined how long the bursary students will be required to live and work in the province.

He said the return on investment for the $500,000 donation received Thursday will pay for the tuition for two medical students who will study in New Brunswick when the medical program opens in September 2010.

Craig said business, governments and citizens will be asked to contribute to the trust and eventually enough money will be raised to fund 10 students per year.

“I hope the donation encourages other pharmaceutical companies. I hope it encourages communities in the province and governments provincially and federally, big industry, big business. We are going to be looking at all those aspects for help,” Craig said.

The trust was established by the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation and the Medical Staff Organization as a way to attract and retain doctors in the province.

On Thursday, Jones presented the cheque to the trust at an event held at the Regional Hospital.

When he was approached about the project, he said, the story of the challenges New Brunswick has faced in setting up the medical school and recruiting doctors was compelling and he wanted to be part of the effort toward change.

Health Minister Mike Murphy was on hand for the announcement and said there will be more announcements to come.

Murphy said Nova Scotia receives $150 million in research each year while New Brunswick gets $9 million for clinical trials. He said, in time, he believes the province can “outstrip and out rival Nova Scotia.”

“You will hear from the government and myself in several weeks with some exciting news about an initiative the government wants to put together,” Murphy said. “There is a necessity to have an infrastructure base and to have researchers here in Saint John, because as we know those who are going to teach in medicine will want to teach, practise and research. We are working very hard on that.”

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