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Ethics

NIH advisers warn against pharma funding for opioid research

by Andrea Widener
April 13, 2018 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 96, ISSUE 16

 

NIH and its nonprofit foundation have been working to create public-private partnerships to research how to address the U.S. opioid crisis. Potential partners include dozens of pharmaceutical companies, several of which are being sued by state attorneys general and others for their role in the crisis. The NIH director’s advisory committee has now cautioned against collaboration with pharmaceutical companies that may have contributed to the opioid crisis lest such collaboration tarnish the resulting research. “While there may be opportunity to advance addiction treatment and research with the financial, technical, and intellectual support of private sector companies, the ethics of accepting contributions from those companies that are perceived as having contributed to the crisis must be considered,” the committee wrote. Among its recommendations, the committee suggests only federal funds should be used to support opioid research. If that is not possible, the committee says, NIH and its foundation should not accept money or oversight from any companies that are being sued over their role in the crisis.

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