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November 1, 2000

Conflicts of Interest in Biomedical Research

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Division of Biomedical and Health Sciences Research, Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC.

JAMA. 2000;284(17):2234-2237. doi:10.1001/jama.284.17.2234

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.

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