Issue Date: April 9, 2007
Another look at NIH conflict-of-interest cases
The Department of Health & Human Services inspector general has reopened 103 conflict-of-interest cases involving NIH intramural researchers, according to a letter to former House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Joe L. Barton (R-Texas). Barton, who is now the ranking Republican on the committee, led a multiyear investigation of ethical conflicts at NIH. The cases are being reopened on the basis of information gathered at the request of the committee from several large pharmaceutical companies. The inspector general is still reviewing the cases to see if further investigations are needed. "NIH specializes in great science, not detective work, and it shows," Barton said. "I hope the inspector general's inquiry will finally sort things out so everyone can have confidence that the public's interest is being fully served," he added. In addition to reopening the conflict-of-interest cases, the inspector general's office also noted that it has begun a review of how NIH oversees financial conflict-of-interest issues at its grantee institutions. The letter stated that because the majority of NIH's funds are distributed to extramural researchers, this project is "an important next step."
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