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November 3, 2015

Confluence, Not Conflict of Interest: Name Change Necessary

Author Affiliations
  • 1Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics, Smilow Center for Translational Research, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia
  • 2Associate Editor, JAMA
JAMA. 2015;314(17):1791-1792. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.12020

The primary interest of the biomedical scientific endeavor is to benefit patients and society. Frequently, this primary interest coincides with secondary interests, most commonly financial in nature, at the interface of the investigator’s relationship with a private sponsor, typically a drug or device company or, increasingly, venture capital firms. Academia and the public have become sensitive to how such a secondary interest might be unduly influential, biasing the interpretation of results, exposing patients to harm, and damaging the reputation of an institution and investigator. This concern has prompted efforts to minimize or “manage” such “conflicts of interest” resulting in a plethora of policies at both the local and national level. Although these policies are often developed in reaction to a limited number of investigators, once introduced, they apply to all. Given the broad array of stakeholders, the diversity of approaches, and the concern that such policies might restrain innovation and delay translation of basic discoveries to clinical benefit, the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics at the University of Pennsylvania recently convened an international meeting on conflict of interest.1 Several themes emerged.

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