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Author Douglas P. Olsen responds: I agree that the pharmaceutical industry's relationship with nurses is not entirely new, but there has been an increasing focus on nurses recently, as physicians have tightened the rules surrounding industry influence and pharmaceutical companies have become savvier about influencing the nursing profession.


Although I no longer prescribe, I was an early prescriber among psychiatric nurses in the mid-1980s, when I practiced in Alaska. In addition, for 13 years I taught advanced practice nursing students at Yale University. I have also spoken in several venues on ethics and nurse prescribing. So my thoughts on the topic have been brewing for some time.


The industry's early support of advanced practice nursing is an angle I had not considered, although Mr. Mittman's belief that this was "vital early financial support" makes me wonder whether it was money well spent.


Regarding the pharmaceutical industry's support of nursing education, I agree with Marcia Angell, who advocates divorcing education from the industry.1




1. Angell M. The truth about the drug companies: how they deceive us and what to do about it. New York City: Random House; 2004. [Context Link]