An editorial in today’s Philly Inquirer subtitled “Who’s Buying the Science?” concludes that researchers must clearly state: “Here are our results; here’s how we got them; here’s where the money came from; here’s where we work; here’s what we’ve done in the past. Hide any part of that, for whatever hair-splitting reason, and skepticism (which is a good thing, and the backbone of science) is justified if it flares into cynicism.”
Last week, Science magazine announced FASEB’s new COI Toolkit “developed to help the scientific community better navigate financial relationships between academia and industry.” FASEB also recently held a “Call to Action” meeting on July 17th at which participants discussed the development of more consistent policies for disclosing financial relationships between academia and industry. The nicely implemented COI Toolkit derives from 3 guiding principles:
Guiding Principle 1: Investigators must conduct research activities objectively.
Guiding Principle 2: Investigators must operate with transparency.
Guiding Principle 3: Investigators must be accountable to all stakeholders.
FASEB defines stakeholders in the last principle as “including the public, sponsors of research, home institutions, research teams, and human subjects and patients.” The Toolkit includes items organized by stakeholder, and the level of detail includes very specific guidance, such as “Pre-publication review by an industry sponsor should take no more than 60 days.”
A letter in The Lancet suggests creation of a “Conflict Vitae” – “a single document with a single set of definitions for disclosure of financial conflicts of interest.”
And down the road, possibly a COI version of clinicaltrials.gov, where investigators seeking to publish data will need to register all their potential conflics of interst?