The US National Institutes of Health is directing its institutes to review ongoing research studies that have received private support for conflicts of interest, the New York Times reports.
The Times notes that this review comes a few months after it raised concerns about a study, since canceled, into the effect of alcohol for which officials had courted alcohol industry players to help fund. "We have to do everything we can to ensure the integrity of the NIH grants process and the quality of our research is above reproach, which means worrying about conflicts," NIH Director Francis Collins tells the Times.
In a report, the NIH says institutes should examine private donors' motivations for giving gifts as well as ensure that the agency has the final say on study design and analysis.
As the Times notes, critics say the report's recommendations don't go far enough. "What, you mean the NIH isn't doing this already?" New York University's Marion Nestle says.
She says the Foundation for the NIH — the entity that raises outside funds on behalf of the NIH — should only accept unrestricted private gifts and not any gifts directed toward certain projects, while Georgetown University's Adriane Fugh-Berman goes further and argues NIH should only receive congressional funding.