Flickr, CarbonNYCIn a bid to increase transparency about researchers’ conflicts of interest, a group of biomedical institutions last week (November 28) proposed creating a central database to house all potential conflict data, and a harmonized system for disclosure. Outlined in a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the database would hold records about fees for services, intellectual property rights, industry grants, and ownership stakes, as well as payments for food, travel, and lodging.
“A coherent, uniform system will not only reduce the time spent by researchers on administrative tasks, but will very likely improve the accuracy and clarity of disclosure reporting,” Allen Lichter, lead author of the paper and CEO at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, said in a statement.
The proposal comes shortly before the “sunshine” provisions of the Affordable Care Act comes into effect next year—a law that requires drug manufacturers to publish on their company websites any payments to physicians and researchers of $10 or greater. The law would add another layer of disclosure requirements to an already confused and complicated process, said the authors. To reduce the administrative burden and increase accessibility to disclosure records, representatives of several institutes including the US Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health want a simplified system, and a central location where potential conflicts can be viewed.
“What happens rights now is that if you’re a doctor, you have to report to a university and [submit disclosures] for talks [at conferences] and papers [for publication],” said Paul Thacker, a former investigator for US Senator Chuck Grassley, who spearheaded the investigation, told Pharmalot. “The requirements for disclosure and time spans can vary. It should be simple—just one form that should be sent to universities, journals, professional societies, any groups.”