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May 23, 1990

Conflicts of Interest in Medical Center/Industry Research Relationships

JAMA. 1990;263(20):2790-2793. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440200094030

CONFLICT of interest in clinical research defies simple definition: one researcher's conflict of interest may be another's mutually beneficial working relationship.1 Conflict of interest must be clearly distinguished from scientific misconduct. The generally recognized patterns that constitute misconduct in science include plagiarism, deception, falsification, and/or fabrication of scientific data. Scientific misconduct compromises the integrity of the biomedical research process.

On the other hand, conflict of interest involves a distinct subset of issues. Conflict of interest is defined by Webster's Third New International Dictionary as "a conflict between the private interests and official responsibilities of a person in a position of trust." Although conflicts of interest may arise in any research relationship, they are most likely to occur when a researcher enters into a financial arrangement with a profit-making corporation. In that situation, the researcher's dedication to the advancement of medical knowledge may collide with the researcher's desire to increase