News of the Day ... in Perspective5/8/2004
Conflicts of interest at NIH under scrutiny
A blue-ribbon panel appointed by NIH director Elias Zerhouni has released a report recommending a complete ban on acceptance of stock or stock options by NIH employees. While directors and deputy directors would be forbidden to accept funds from industry, NIH scientists could continue to moonlight for up to 400 hours as industry consultants and supplement their salaries by up to 50%. Moreover, the panel would allow the nature of industry contracts to be kept secret (LA Times 5/7/04).
The Inspector General and the General Accounting Office are examining NIH ethics policies, and the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee has scheduled hearings.
“Experience has taught us that the ‘trust us’ rationale is not reliable…. Transparency is the most effective antidote,” stated Los Angeles attorney Michael Josephson.
Public health policies should not be based on reports that could be tainted by conflicts of interest, states the Alliance for Human Research Protection (www.ahrp.org). Such policies include mandatory vaccines and recommendations for drugs based on inflation of benefits and concealment of adverse reactions.
The 109-page report is available at: www.nih.gov.
Appeals Court decision in AAPS v. Clinton cited in Supreme Court brief by Judicial Watch in its case against Energy Task Force: http://www.judicialwatch.org/cases/67/nepdgfinal.htm