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CLC Gives Next House Warning

Next House was let off with a warning at a meeting of the Cambridge License Commission last Friday. The CLC was reviewing Next House’s license following a drinking incident in June.

In addition to issuing a written warning, the CLC ordered MIT to carry out an eight-step plan proposed by Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict and to keep the CLC updated on the plan’s progress.

Benedict’s plan involves sending parents of incoming students a copy of the CD Alcohol 101, to be used as “an interactive, educational tool for parents.” The plan also includes convening a campus-wide “Alcohol Working Group” which will “inventory [and evaluate] current alcohol education, training and enforcement procedures.”

Benedict’s plan also calls for “further [clarification of] ... the roles of the Graduate Residents.” The CLC originally criticized MIT for not giving graduate resident tutors enough authority regarding alcohol violations. At the meeting, however, CLC Chairman Benjamin C. Barnes said, “I don’t want to have strained relationships” between residents and GRTs.

While the CLC stated its hope that MIT would declare all ten undergraduate dorms alcohol-free, Benedict explained that “the Institute believes that prohibition is neither an appropriate nor an effective measure to combat underage drinking ... [because] between 20 percent and 30 percent of the residents are aged 21 or greater” and have a legal right to drink. He also said that dry housing “will not guarantee that no drinking will occur in residence halls.”

-- Jennifer Krishnan

Pfizer Responds to Drug Price Charges

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. called a press conference yesterday at its Discovery Technology Center in Cambridge to defend itself against recent protests over high prescription drug prices.

Pfizer Senior Medical Advisor Mike Magee said that Pfizer must “support access [to] and innovation [of new drugs].”

While noting that “there needs to be progress on the access issue,” Magee defended the company against its critics by saying that Pfizer spends $5 billion in research and development, employing 12,000 scientists globally.

Magee said that the company needed to make such sizeable investments in research in order “to provide ... the hope that something can be discovered to make a difference [in patients’ lives].”

Janice T. Bourque, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, also addressed drug coverage and cost of drugs. She brought up the recent proposal for a state-sponsored insurance program, reflecting on Magee’s earlier statement that Pfizer “... believes that access needs to be extended to all seniors.”

Pfizer has been at the center of the national debate over prescription drug benefits, recently facing a storm of protests over the current state of drug prices around the world. The company ranks as the number one pharmaceutical firm in the nation, generating a total of $27.5 billion in revenues.

-- Shankar Mukherji