DrugMonkey doesn't think much of the new NIH rules to address financial conflict of interest among researchers. In fact, he says, the tighter rules "will do absolutely nothing about real COI." For one thing, DrugMonkey says, lowering the reporting threshold from $10,000 to $5,000 won't do anything about the PIs who caused scandal and were investigated by Congress for making hundreds of thousands of dollars from big pharma without reporting it. If they didn't report at $10,000, asking them to report at $5,000 won't do much, DrugMonkey says. "Note that this level of outside cashola is well over the previous requirement for institutions to manage the conflict and note further that those previous requirements failed spectacularly," he adds. "Changing the threshold does jack squat." The problem, he continues, is enforcing the rules, something NIH isn't very good at. Instead, he says, the agency is trying to look busy while not doing very much to address the real problem. Furthermore, leaving the responsibility for managing conflict to institutions is also bunk, he says, since they already tend to turn a blind eye to conflicts of interest to avoid having their NIH funding cut. "C'mon NIH. Try again on this one," he says.
But It Sounds Like Something's Changing
May 27, 2010