Conflict-Free Panels Are Possible and Necessary

Merrill Goozner

Posted 11/3/11 on Gooz News

Duff Wilson of the New York Times this morning puts the spotlight on three National Institutes of Health panels deliberating new clinical practice guidelines for managing cholesterol, hypertension and obesity and finds significant conflicts of interest among the panel members. No surprise there. Most guideline-writing committees in most specialties across the medical profession are laced with physicians on the payrolls of companies with a financial stake in the final product of the committees’ deliberations. Just put the phrase “conflicts of interest” in the search engine on this website, and you’ll see more than 200 articles I’ve written in the past few years documenting and lamenting this phenomenon.

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Tougher NIH Rules About Financial Conflicts in Danger of Being Watered Down

Alison Bass

First posted 7/20/11 on Alison Bass

I realize this is the dead of summer and every journalist who isn’t on vacation is captivated by the Murdoch phone-hacking scandal. But while everyone is looking the other way, the National Institute of Health’s proposed new rules about the disclosure of financial conflicts of interest may be watered down.

The sticking point, according to the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), is a proposed rule that would require government-funded researchers to publicly disclose potential conflicts of interest to consumers. POGO officials say that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which has been reviewing the proposed changes for months, may weaken or eliminate the public disclosure requirement due to pressure from industry and university officials. In a letter to OMB July 11, POGO’s executive director Danielle Brian and staff scientist Ned Feder called on the OMB to make sure that requirement remains in the new guidelines.

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