Corporate Compliance

NIH imposes restrictions on scientists to avoid conflicts of interest

Compliance Monitor, February 9, 2005

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) on February 1 announced a plan aimed at eliminating conflicts of interest by banning its scientists from performing paid consulting services for pharmaceutical, biotech, and similar businesses, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

"Nothing is more important for NIH than preserving the public's trust," NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni said during his announcement of the new rules.

According to the AP, in addition to pharma and biotech, the ban on outside work extends to research institutions, including NIH-funded organizations, healthcare providers, insurers, and related trade associations. Under the new ethics rules, NIH scientists are also prohibited from holding stock in such companies; other NIH employees will be limited as to how much stock they can own in pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms, the AP reported.

Zerhouni announced that the scientists will still be able to teach and lecture in their fields, as well as write articles and textbooks, saying "clearly we do not want to impair scientific interchange," the AP reported.

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