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Centralized COIs

A centralized system for disclosing conflicts of interest should be created, argue Allen Lichter from the American Society of Clinical Oncology and Duke University School of Medicine's Ross McKinney in The Journal of the American Medical Association this week. "Such a system can be designed and implemented as one element in a process to help ensure that research can progress in a trusted, transparent fashion, thereby increasing trust among the public and health care professionals in new medical products that are brought to the benefit of patients," they write.

They note that an Institute of Medicine report from 2009 encouraged the development of a standardized disclosure for use across organizations, though they deem such an approach to be "impractical" as agencies have varying disclosure requirements.

Instead, they propose a "single, flexible mechanism [that allows] physicians and researchers to disclose, and institutions and relevant entities to request, specific information."

At Pharmalot, Ed Silverman writes that this suggestion comes just as the US Affordable Care Act's sunshine provision is about to go into effect, which "law requires drugmakers to post payments exceeding $10 to physicians on their web sites, among other things."

He adds that "given the heavy hitters" — Lichter and McKinney consulted with people from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Cleveland Clinic, the National Institutes of Health, Nature Publishing Group, and Partners HealthCare, among others — "that have signed on to the proposal, the likelihood that a unified system for disclosure appears to have increased."

The Scan

Dropped Charges

The US Justice Department has dropped visa fraud charges against five Chinese researchers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

More Kids

The Associated Press says Moderna is expanding its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine study to included additional children and may include even younger children.

PNAS Papers on Rat Clues to Human Migration, Thyroid Cancer, PolyG-DS

In PNAS this week: ancient rat genome analysis gives hints to human migrations, WDR77 gene mutations in thyroid cancer, and more.

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.