Conflicts of Interest (Forum) (Letter to the Editor‪)‬

Issues in Science and Technology 2005, Spring, 21, 3

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Publisher Description

In "Managing the Triple Helix in the Life Sciences" (Issues, Winter 2005), Eric G. Campbell, Greg Koski, Darren E. Zinner, and David Blumenthal provide a thoughtful and scholarly analysis of the benefits and risks of academic/industry relationships and offer their recommendations for managing them. All of their proposals involve public disclosure of the financial ties between academics and companies, a policy shared by several major professional organizations. No doubt such transparency would be an improvement on the current largely recondite nature of such relationships, but does disclosure truly solve the conflict of interest problem? Many academics approve of disclosure largely because it allows business as usual. I don't see it as a satisfactory solution. Take the opinion of an academic who writes a strongly positive appraisal of a drug made by a company for which he or she serves as a speaker or consultant. How are we, nonexperts, to interpret the assessment? It might be identical to one by a nonconflicted expert: rigorously objective. It might be biased in favor of the company, although the author, who cannot be expected to reach into his subconscious, is unaware that he has slanted the analysis. Or, least likely, out of an effort to enhance his status with the company, the author might consciously tilt his opinion. We just don't know which explanation is closer to the truth. Thus, disclosure leaves the receiver of information in a difficult position, trying to interpret the motives of the conflicted author. In fact, people given such disclosure information often underestimate the severity of the conflicts.

GENRE
Professional & Technical
RELEASED
2005
22 March
LANGUAGE
EN
English
LENGTH
8
Pages
PUBLISHER
National Academy of Sciences
SIZE
157.5
KB

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