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Med School Reactions to Furcht Outing...

From the Strib:

Medical school conflicted over disclosures

Opinions vary on whether those proposing changes in the University of Minnesota's conflict-of-interest policy should themselves be free of conflicts.

By JANET MOORE, Star Tribune

In its draft report, the conflict of interest task force recommended that medical school doctors and researchers disclose their financial relationships with industry on a public web site. When the Star Tribune asked for disclosures of the 26 members, the U again declined.

So the Star Tribune asked the members directly. Sixteen responded (one could not be reached).

Ten said they had nothing to disclose and six reported various relationships with drug and medical device companies -- from royalties for inventions to grants for clinical research to equity stakes in start-up firms. (Furcht did not respond.)

A bioethicist at the U said disclosure alone is not enough, and that a task force revising rules on financial relationships with industry should itself be free of conflict of interest.

"The idea is that as long as these relationships are made public, the problem is solved," said Carl Elliott, a professor at the U's Center for Bioethics, who is not a member of the task force. "How much good does that really do? Is a public bribe really all that much better than a secret bribe?" He said Furcht should be removed from the committee.

Several members of the committee said privately that Furcht should have disclosed that he was disciplined,
but few thought the recent revelation will change the crux of their final report.

The task force's draft recommendations have been circulated among medical faculty and students, and the dean has received hundreds of comments. A smaller committee will distill the recommendations, some of which may be approved by the Board of Regents. Work on the report likely will continue through next spring.

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