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NIH to Weigh In on COI - Maybe Some Folks at the U of M Will Finally Wake Up?


From the Daily:

Tell me a little bit about where we are with the conflicts of interest policy. I know there’s only one Regents meeting left. Where’s that at? [Daily reporter Emma Carew]

And then we’ll be ready to put this together and see what the new policy draft looks like, and begin to take it through the consulting process. I think we’re also in the midst of preparing a position statement on the value added from relationships between faculty and the institution and industry where there is really clear value added. [Academic Health Center VP, Dr. Frank Cerra]

And so what kind of timeline are you working on? Is there a goal for what Regents meeting you’d like to bring the policy to?

Not really.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

May 11, 2009
NIH Plans New Rules to Police Researchers' Financial Conflicts of Interest

Washington — After months of steady disclosures about financial conflicts of interest in scientific research, the National Institutes of Health is moving forward with a promise of tighter regulation.

The NIH has published a notice in the Federal Register saying it has begun the formal process of writing regulations to govern how institutions ensure their researchers aren’t biased by payments from outside companies.

“The increased interaction between government and the private sector in meeting common public-health goals, and recent public scrutiny, have raised the question of whether a more rigorous approach to investigator disclosure, management of conflicts, and federal oversight is required,” the NIH said in the notice.

The NIH itself may be part of the problem. An audit report last year by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services — the NIH’s parent agency — said that hundreds of financial conflicts of interest among university researchers were simply not being investigated by the NIH.

Agency leaders, in their promise of new regulations, make specific mention of their interest in a set of recommendations issued in February 2008 by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Association of American Universities.

Those recommendations include requiring that investigators conducting research on human subjects report to their institution all outside financial interests related to their professional responsibilities.

The NIH notice also raises the possibility of requiring institutions with 50 or more employees to form independent conflict-of-interest committees, and requiring that all grantee institutions submit “conflict-management plans.”

We have been stalling around for years over a conflict of interest policy in the AHC. Putting out a cya statement about the value of industry relations seems a waste of time at this point.

It is sad that an institution, with a Provost who thought that the Graduate School could be wiped out and replaced by an alternate vendor in a couple of months, cannot put out a decent conflict of interest policy after several years of talking about it.

Reminds me of the old story about the man who used to hit his mule with a 2x4 and then calmly talk to the mule about the task at hand. When asked why he did this, he explained that first you have to get the mule's attention.

Well, if local indignation, national scorn, and Charles Grassley can't wake up the mules that run the U of M, perhaps NIH can?


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