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February 13, 2008

Academic Medical Centers and Financial Conflicts of Interest

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Center on Medicine as a Profession, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York.

JAMA. 2008;299(6):695-697. doi:10.1001/jama.299.6.695

Over the past decade, concern about the consequences of financial conflict of interest has escalated dramatically. Although the principle that the integrity of decision making should not be undermined by self-interest may seem self-evident, not until the 1960s was this concept applied to government office holders and attorneys,1-3 and then sporadically in the 1980s and 1990s to physicians and clinical researchers.4 Indeed, it is only now that academic medical centers (AMCs) and professional medical societies are more systematically addressing many of the critical issues involved in institutional conflicts of interest (ICOI). Many leaders and administrators at AMCs are asking how scientific objectivity can be maintained considering the potentially compromising relationships that can ensue from gifts, grants, royalties, equity holdings, and business ownership—not only to individual investigators and clinicians, but also to academic institutions.