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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
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NIH Wants More (Not Total) Disclosure of Financial Conflicts
20 May 2010 2:49 pm
The federal government today proposed an overhaul of regulations covering financial conflicts of interest in biomedical research. The widely anticipated rules would expand the amount of information that researchers must report to their institutions, make some of it public, and require that more details than in the past be submitted privately to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
NIH Director Francis Collins described the rules as "a substantial change." While that's true, the proposal falls short of what some in the academic community have called for.
NIH is responding to growing public concerns that drug company money is biasing research, including a probe by Senator Charles Grassley (R–IA) of several psychiatrists with NIH funding who allegedly failed to disclose hundreds of millions of dollars in consulting income. The proposed regulation revises a 15-year-old Public Health Service rule that largely leaves it up to institutions to decide whether there's a conflict and how to handle it.
NIH wants to lower the definition of "significant" financial interest from $10,000 to $5000, or any equity in a nonpublicly-traded company (the previous cutoff was 5%). Researchers would have to tell their institutions about all interests over this threshold that "reasonably appear to be related to the Investigator's institutional responsibilities"—leaving administrators, not the investigator, to decide which are related to a specific NIH-funded project.
If institutional officials find a significant conflict involving an NIH grant, they would have to send NIH a detailed report on the amount of money involved and how the conflict is being managed. And the institutions would have to disclose publicly all of these conflicts on a Web site.
Although these are big changes, they fall short of advice from an Institute of Medicine panel and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Both think that researchers should report all potential financial conflicts to their institutions, with no minimum dollar threshold.
There are also differences between what would be reported to NIH and to the public. For example, in making conflicts public, institutions may report amounts in increments, the highest level of disclosure being an open-ended "above $250,000." That means the public won't know if the amount is $260,000 or $2 million. Asked on a press call why public information should be less accurate than the data researchers disclose, NIH official Sally Rockey referred reporters to the proposed rule's preamble. It discusses privacy, but this reporter could not find a specific explanation for the difference.
AAMC Chief Scientific Officer Ann Bonham says NIH, "on balance, took into account our recommendations" and that the proposal "is a significant step forward in maintaining the public trust." Grassley issued a similar statement calling the changes "an important step in the right direction." The notice appears in the Federal Register tomorrow. NIH will then take comments for the next 60 days before issuing a final regulation.
This article was corrected on 6/9/2010.