For Immediate Release
POGO Presses NIH Director to Seek Public Disclosure of Researchers’ Possible Conflicts of Interest
WASHINGTON - 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.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more effective, accountable, open and honest federal government.