Author Affiliation: Division of Biomedical and Health Sciences Research, Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC.
Financial conflicts of interest in academic biomedical research first
entered the public consciousness during the 1980s, along with a series of
widely publicized episodes of scientific misconduct. In some of these episodes,
faculty investigators were accused of having fabricated or falsified research
data on therapeutic products in which they had substantial financial interests.
The linkage was unfortunate because it has imprinted indelibly in the minds
of members of Congress and the media that financial conflicts of interest
in biomedical research are inherently wrong and often accompanied by scientific
misrepresentation or misconduct.1 These issues
are again before us, in a context of increasing administration, congressional,
and public concern about the adequacy of the current system of protections
of human subjects in general, and more specifically, in response to recent
tragic events that occurred in gene transfer experiments in settings in which
both investigators and their institutions are alleged to hold financial interests
have been linked to the deaths of several research participants.2- 7
Once again, there are calls for increased federal interposition into the conduct
of academic biomedical research and strengthened federal guidance, if not
regulation, of faculty researchers' behaviors and privileges.
Korn D. Conflicts of Interest in Biomedical Research. JAMA. 2000;284(17):2234-2237. doi:10.1001/jama.284.17.2234