A proposed rule that would require universities and medical schools to create a public website listing industry contributions to National Institutes of Health-funded researchers continues to be debated.
The rule was proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) last year after a number of NIH grant recipients failed to disclose industry funding that could have influenced their findings. Under the new rule, universities would have to police their scientists, posting those they deem as having inappropriate financial relationships that could influence their science, online. The details would be available on the website for 5 years.
But according to Nature, government officials close to the negotiations said the changes in the rule now give universities the option to disclose in any manner, with no requirement for online publication. Although negotiations are still in progress, and the rule has yet to be finalized, some advocacy groups are concerned that without the public disclosure requirement, it will become much more difficult to monitor conflicts of interest among government-funded researchers. Lobby groups for the universities cite the administrative burden and cost of implementing such a measure, and suggest that rather than the universities, the DHHS should monitor and publish researcher conflicts.