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Project on Government Oversight




POGO Presses NIH Director to Seek Public Disclosure of Researchers’ Possible Conflicts of Interest

March 15, 2010 


The Project On Government Oversight has urged National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins to deal strongly and openly with a problem that has surfaced in scandals reported in the press in recent years. The scandals arose from financial conflicts of interest among researchers funded by the NIH in universities and medical schools. In a letter to Dr. Collins on March 11, POGO urged him to make the researchers' financial arrangements readily accessible to examination by journalists, Members of Congress, and the public—in a public database, for example.

At present, the financial arrangements are reported confidentially to the researchers' institutions. The confidentiality of the reports has opened the door to abuses involving obvious conflicts of interest.

The majority of the biomedical research community opposes public release of this financial information. However, Dr. Collins made his own views clear in an interview about six months ago: "I personally am in favor of the idea that sunshine is the best disinfectant. The idea of having a public database where all investigators disclose what kinds of financial arrangement they have with outside organization is a good thing."

In its letter, POGO urges Dr. Collins to support public disclosure of grantees’ private financial arrangements related to their research. The public should be able to view these arrangements on an easily accessible website. “This kind of public disclosure is one of the best ways to protect against financial conflicts of interest in medical research,” said POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian. 

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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