Response to SAFS by Dr. Paul E. Garfinkel

May 2, 2001

Dr. Clive Seligman
Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship
1673 Richmond St., #344
London, ON N6G 2N3

Dear Dr. Seligman,

Thank you for your letter of April 23rd. We appreciate your efforts to better understand the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s (CAMH) actions in relation to rescinding a job offer to Dr. David Healy.

Unfortunately, we are unable to dispel misconceptions about our decision to rescind Dr. Healy’s job offer because this matter involves confidential Human Resources information. As you would expect, people who apply to work for us must be able to trust the integrity and confidentiality of the hiring process.

However, as is a matter of public record, we did send a latter to Dr. Healy on April 21st outlining factors involved in our decision to rescind the offer.

It is quite impossible to provide satisfying answers to your concern regarding perceived "abridgement of Dr. Healy’s academic freedom" without disclosing detailed information confidential between CAMH and Dr. Helaly as part of the above-mentioned letter. We want to be clear, however, that Dr. Goldbloom, on behalf of CAMH and as co-chair of the Search Committee, attempted to speak directly with Dr. Healy on numerous occasions to provide further explanation of our decision to rescind the job offer. Dr. Helay did not respond to Dr. Goldbloom’s offers, nor to a written offer to speak further.

Given stated limitations of confidentiality, here are general responses to your concerns:

  • Are we actually referring to concerns about loss of fundraising support when we use the word "development" with respect to Dr. Healy’s approach? Absolutely not. In fact, it is important to note that your letter, the Globe and Mail report of April 14, and the Globe and Mail editorial of April 18, all incorrectly state that we felt Dr. Healy’s approach was not compatible with CAMH’s development goals". In fact, the wording used in Dr. Goldbloom’s letter of December 7th to Dr. Healy was: "… we do not feel your approach is compatible with the goals for development of the academic and clinical resource that we have." When we refer to development, it clearly means goals for the development of the academic and clinical resource that is the Mood and Anxiety Disorders program. Specifically, we mean enhancing clinical services, promoting education and research, recruiting new faculty, and interacting with other clinical programs in and with community agencies.
  • Has Eli Lilly or any other pharmaceutical ever influenced our hiring decisions? Absolutely not. Neither Eli Lilly, nor any other outside body, organization or individual has ever had any involvement in the decision-making process regarding Human Resources matters, including university cross appointments.
  • Did we fear that because of Healy’s views on Prozac, Eli Lilly would pull funding from our organization if we hired him? Absolutely not. Our primary concern is to engage the best personnel for the benefit of our patients and staff. We regret that our actions have been interpreted as an attack against academic freedom and as a conflict of interest. We want to be clear that we have never made an offer or withdrawn an offer on the basis of the impact on an outside donor. We are vigilant over conflict of interest. And as an academic teaching hospital, the Centre most certainly respects academic freedom and encourages scientific debate.
  • Do private corporations, such as Eli Lilly, influence "scholarly and scientific research" at CAMH? Absolutely not. There is always a potential of conflict of interest with respect to pharmaceutical involvement in research funding in any aspect of health care, that’s why each research project is governed by a contract that protects academic freedom. We will not a sign an agreement with industry, which will, in any way, prevent release of the research. All our research agreements with our funders, including industry, are consistent with the new research harmonization policy that has just been reached between University of Toronto and all the teaching hospitals. This ensures that academic freedom is protected.
We hope that this information clarifies our actions, given the need to preserve confidentiality. We appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns.   Yours sincerely,

Paul E. Garfinkel, MD, FRCP(C)
President and Chief Executive Officer

  c.c.  Dr. David Goldbloom, Physician-in-Chief, CAMH
        Dr. Robert Birgeneau, President, University of Toronto
        Dr. David Naylor, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto  

Return to Issues/Cases Page