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August 7, 2018

Protecting NIH’s Integrity and Trustworthiness in Public-Private Partnerships

Author Affiliations
  • 1The Greenwall Foundation, New York, New York
  • 2Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
  • 3Deputy Editor, JAMA Internal Medicine
JAMA. 2018;320(5):439-440. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.7625

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), like other public agencies, creates public-private partnerships (PPPs) to support projects in the public interest that could not be done using only NIH resources. Although PPPs can benefit the public, recent cases illustrate how NIH PPPs may raise important concerns about conflicts of interest.

In 2017, NIH began planning a PPP to accelerate the development of new therapies for opioid use disorder and pain. Proposed projects included repurposing existing medications, developing biomarkers and surrogate end points, and establishing a new clinical trials network. The PPP plan was developed after meetings that included other government agencies, academic researchers, and industry representatives. Several potential partners with whom the PPP was discussed were opioid manufacturers,1 including some that were being sued by state attorneys general for allegedly promoting the opioid crisis.