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Leading NIH-funded medical schools agree on guidelines that would strenghten conflict of interest policies

Boston February 8, 2001Agreeing that the protection of research subjects is paramount, the leaders of eight of the nations top-10 NIH-funded medical schools and another six nationally prominent leaders in academic medicine have drafted a set of guidelines that would clarify, strengthen, and add structure to most research institutions policies for dealing with financial conflicts of interest that can arise from collaborations between faculty and industry.

"While academic-industry collaborations are essential if patients are to benefit from the current biomedical revolution, the integrity of those relationships must be monitored by policies that are clearer and more stringent than is the norm today," said Harvard Medical School dean Joseph B. Martin, who convened the group.

The groups recommendations address inconsistencies and gaps in policies described in a series of four articles in the November 1 JAMA and the November 30 New England Journal of Medicine that the group reviewed when they met in Washington, D.C. on November 27 and 28. In the weeks since, the group has refined the draft proposals developed at the meeting and is submitting them this week to the Association of American Medical Colleges, which has formed a committee to review financial conflicts-of-interest policies for medical schools and teaching hospitals nationally.

The proposals are designed to guide individual institutions as they review their own conflict-of-interest policies and were drafted with an eye to refining some of the weaknesses and gaps cited in the November journal articles. In particular, the proposals recommend that institutions consider the following actions:

  • Require disclosure of financial interests to the institutional review boards that approve clinical research trials, something only around one percent of institutions do now.*

  • Apply required disclosure of financial ties to anyone involved in researchfaculty, students, and staffand that disclos
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Contact: Don Gibbons
don_gibbons@hms.harvard.edu
617-432-0442
Harvard Medical School
7-Feb-2001


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