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NIH Proposes New Financial Disclosure Regs for Scientific Investigators

The National Institutes of Health are proposing new rules for reporting and managing financial conflicts of interest among scientists and other investigators working on NIH-funded medical research.

Frances Collins, NIH Director, said in a press briefing earlier today that updated regulations are meant to promote transparency and ensure that scientists’ findings are not under any influence from financial interest in or payments from companies with their own investment in the outcome of their research. She also said, “Clearly to move forward with innovations, partnerships between scientists and industry remain important. 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 newly-proposed regulations, the threshold for reporting an investigator’s financial interest would be reduced from $10,000 to $5,000. The responsibility for disclosing and determining such conflicts would become that of the institution, such as medical schools, that have been awarded research grants from the NIH. In addition, institutions would be required to provide management plans for handling any identified financial conflicts, and they must set up a website for public disclosure of their investigators’ financial interests.

The proposed regulations, “Responsibility of Applicants for Promoting Objectivity in Research for which PHS Funding is Sought and Responsible Prospective Contractors,” will be published in tomorrow’s Federal Register and open for public comment until July 21.

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