NIH proposes new set of conflict-of-interest rules
The National Institutes of Health has proposed an updated set of rules for reporting and managing financial conflicts of interest among investigators working on NIH-funded medical research. NIH Director Francis Collins said during a news briefing that the updated regulations are intended to promote transparency and ensure that an investigator’s findings are not influenced by any financial interest in or payments from companies with an investment in the outcome of certain research. “Clearly to move forward with innovations, partnerships between scientists and industry remain important,” Collins said. “At the same time, we have to protect patients and maintain the public trust.” The NIH awards more than $23 billion in research grants annually to universities, medical schools and other research institutions. Under the proposed updates, the threshold for reporting an investigator’s financial interest to the NIH would be lowered to $5,000 from $10,000. The responsibility of determining and disclosing such conflicts would move from individual investigators to institutions—such as medical schools—that have been awarded NIH research grants.