Conflicts of Interest in Science
Conflict of Interest Policy at Harvard

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Posted:
26 May 2000

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 26 May 2000 16:39:49 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Roy L. Beavers" <rbeavers@llion.org>
To: emfguru <rbeavers@llion.org>
Cc: john_mccain@mccain.senate.gov
Subject: Conflict of interest policy at Harvard (guru)..

Hi everybody:

Do you remember (not so many days ago), guru published some messages (now on his website) about the "conflict of interest" problem in EMF research.....  You may recall the "star story" of that triad of messages was an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine -- written by Dr. Marcia Angell.....  Remember her name, I said.....

The news item below mentions her name again as it reports on a very important policy decision that is being instituted by the medical school at Harvard University....

It is INDEED ... "time for a 'national dialogue' involving top universities, government and industry to improve conflict of interest policies...."  (Quoted from story below.)

But ... let it NOT become another of the usual "chummy" ... "insider" ... affairs, where  the "establishment" FOX ends up guarding the public interest chicken coop.......

The dialogue that is needed is one that would be MANAGED by a totally INDEPENDENT Commission of highly qualified "outsiders" ... selected from the PUBLIC domain......  And NOT subject to selection or nomination by those professions or activities that are being scrutinized....

And......  This 'dialogue' should not be limited to the scientists or medical community!!!  This problem is so endemic in our society that there are few who have the right to "throw the first stone."  The U.S. political/governmental/bureaucratic system is (perhaps) even more at fault than the poor medical professors at Harvard (with their $100,000 salaries plus whatever they can "rake" into their hands via their research, lectures, "consulting" or other "outside" professional activities) ... who seem to have become the "targets" of the action below....

Even though (I have been assured) they can make many more $$$$$$ through such non-faculty activities ... they are still the "small fry" in this game as it is being played in America today....

The INITIAL target of such a dialogue must be the halls of the capitol building at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue......

Cheerio.....  See below.....!!!

Roy Beavers (EMFguru
roy@emfguru.com

It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness

People are more important than profits!!

Missed opportunity...
$$$$$ We could have changed the corrupted system!! $$$$$
McCain !!


12:43 PM ET 05/26/00

Harvard Won't Ease Ethics Rules

BOSTON (AP) _ Harvard Medical School officials have decided against easing strict conflict-of-interest rules, a move that would have allowed researchers to make more money through outside work.

In a memo to faculty Thursday, Joseph Martin, dean of the faculty of medicine, canceled a June 1 meeting to discuss the proposed policy changes.

``I believe that the most important role academic medicine can have in clinical research today is to try to bolster the public's faith in the veracity and ethical underpinnings of this noble endeavor,'' Martin said.

Dr. Marcia Angell, editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, said she was delighted with the decision.

``I was concerned that Harvard was going to relax its guidelines,'' said Angell, who last week wrote a withering critique of the research system, saying science is being compromised by the growing influence of industry money.

Harvard researchers are prohibited from devoting more than 20 percent of their time to work outside of Harvard. They are also barred from holding more than $20,000 worth of stock in a company that funds research in their lab. Restrictions also apply when they are receiving fees or royalties from a company.

The ethics policy, widely considered the toughest in the nation, covers about 8,000 faculty members in 17 affiliated institutions in the Boston area.

A committee assembled by Martin in 1998 recommended months ago that Harvard medical faculty be able to own larger amounts of stock and receive higher consultant fees, and still do company-sponsored research.

Researchers can have as much financial interest in a company as they want as long as that company does not pay for research in their lab, the school stressed. The business and the research must be kept separate, said Margaret Dale, an associate dean at the medical school who administers ethics rules.

In his memo, Martin called for a ``national dialogue'' involving top universities, government and industry to improve conflict-of-interest policies.

Martin's decision came one day after the University of Pennsylvania said it would re-evaluate its policy following the death of a young volunteer in a gene therapy experiment and questions about a researcher's ties to a private company. Martin was a member of a panel whose report on the case was issued Wednesday.

Earlier this week, federal health officials proposed fines of up to $250,000 for scientists who violate medical research rules and fines of $1 million for rule-breaking universities or hospitals.

Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala said the government will hold responsible not just the scientist at fault but the institution.

Any proposal must go through Congress, but Shalala announced additional steps that will start immediately: better training of the local medical boards primarily responsible for overseeing patient safety, tougher requirements that patients be fully informed of research risks and improved monitoring of how patients fare day-to-day.



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