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NIH tightens conflict rules

Nature Biotechnology volume 29, page 959 (2011) | Download Citation


In a long anticipated move, the US National Institutes of Health tightened its disclosure requirements for funding applicants. The original rules established in 1995 called for disclosure when a researcher—or his/her spouse or children—received at least $10,000 in payments or 5% equity from companies or outside institutions. The new rules issued in August reduce that amount to $5,000 or any equity at all in a private company. Some are disappointed, however, that one rumored change was not included: the requirement for universities to post potential conflicts in publicly accessible web sites. Universities criticized the proposal. “That's a disappointment, because I do think it would be useful to have that information publicly available. I do think that awareness is higher and there will probably be more activity around disclosures,” says Lisa Bero, professor of clinical pharmacy and health policy at the University of California San Francisco, Tom Stossel, professor at Harvard Medical School, is a critic of the new policy. He says that no one has produced evidence that financial entanglements are harmful, and too much disclosure could lead to a witch hunt that undermines collaborations between academia and industry. “The old regulations didn't require very much. The new ones are going to open a Pandora's Box.”

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