The New Conflict of Interest Rules: What’s There, and What’s Not

Eric Campbell

First posted 9/15/11 on The Health Affairs Blog

Copyright ©2011 Health Affairs by Project HOPE – The People-to-People Health Foundation, Inc.

Last month the federal government issued new regulations governing the disclosure and management of potential financial conflicts of interest on the part of investigators in federally funded research projects. As explained below, these regulations, which replace earlier rules adopted more than 15 years ago, represent an important step toward transparency. However, they also contain important omissions, such as the lack of any oversight of potential conflicts on the part of the very institutions charged with monitoring their researchers’ conflicts of interest.

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Doctors Without Borders

A Special Weekend Article!

Why you can’t trust medical journals anymore.


Brian’s Note: This article was published nearly 7 years ago, in 2004, in the Washington Journal. While transparency and disclosure rules have arguably improved since then, the larger problems associated with financial conflict still pervade all medicine and health care. A spate of recent stories has detailed device manufacturers paying off surgeons. Community oncologists and adolescent psychiatrists are still permitted to profit on the drugs they prescribe. And on and on.

So Ms. Brownlee’s article remains relevant, shocking and very engaging. Enjoy.

With financial ties to nearly two dozen drug and biotech companies, Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff may hold some sort of record among academic clinicians for the most conflicts of interest. A psychiatrist, a prominent researcher, and chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral science at Emory University in Atlanta, Nemeroff receives funding for his academic research from Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Wyeth-Ayerst–indeed from virtually every pharmaceutical house that manufactures a drug to treat mental illness. He also serves as a consultant to drug and biotech companies, owns their stocks, and is a member of several speakers’ bureaus, delivering talks–for a fee–to other physicians on behalf of the companies’ products.

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