After these congressional inquiries, the NIH adopted revised regulations that require grantees to disclose all financial entanglements greater than $5,000 to their home institutions. In addition, the rules compel those institutions to make a public accounting, in broad terms, of any conflicts of interest of personnel involved in NIH-sponsored research. These changes mean that the public will have access to more information about the targets of pharmaceutical industry money.
NIH director Francis Collins trumpeted the new regulations as “a clear message that the NIH is committed to promoting objectivity in the research it funds.” Yet there was no language in the new regulation that changed who is responsible for spotting such conflicts or how ethical problems are managed. “Because the institutions themselves know the context in which their employees work and because these are employees of the institution and not employees of the federal government, the management responsibility resides with them,” says Sally Rockey, the NIH's deputy director for extramural research. “The institutions are in the best position to manage the financial interests of their own employees.
This article was originally published with the title Is Drug Research Trustworthy?.