The Scientist recently published a proposal for a new rule on consulting by National Institutes of Health scientists.1 Under this rule, consulting would be "prohibited when it involves drug, device or product related to [the scientist's] research; permitted when company products are unrelated to [the scientist's] research." But this rule, proposed by the Executive Committee of the NIH Assembly of Scientists, is remarkably similar to the rules that were in existence during the 8-year period that ended in December 2003 with the Los Angeles Times' exposé of conflicts of interest at NIH.2

During this 8-year period, hundreds of NIH scientists were consultants for drug and biotech companies. Many other NIH scientists and officials approved of or were aware of the consulting. The consulting was unknown to the public and members of Congress. Throughout the entire period, not one of the hundreds at NIH (including the 17 members of...

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