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February 16, 1994

Conflict of Interest Dilemmas in Biomedical Research

Author Affiliations

From the Technology Resource Group, Sacramento, Calif (Dr Witt), and American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Boston, Mass (Mr Gostin). Mr Gostin is currently Visiting Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC, and The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Md.

JAMA. 1994;271(7):547-551. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510310077042

BIOMEDICAL researchers in medical centers, universities, and other nonprofit research institutions routinely collaborate with for-profit companies on research. These academic-industry collaborations have generated lifesaving new products, as well as profits for the companies and the researchers. Because of the beneficial effect of biomedical technology transfers on the United States' competitiveness and public health, Congress has made a national priority of bringing academia and industry together.1,2 However, the industry-academia collaborations have their costs. They create conflicts between the researcher's (and possibly the institution's) academic interests and financial interests. These conflicts of interest threaten the objectivity of science, the integrity of scientists and institutions, and the safety of medical products.

At the present time, federal employees working in federal laboratories are constrained by numerous conflict of interest restrictions.3,4 Researchers outside the federal government, however, are subject to minimal restrictions, even if they receive federal funds.

This article examines the existing