I do not know what all the fuss is about over conflicts of interest and the ethics of NIH scientists consulting with biotech companies.1 The conflict of interest can easily be removed by making all such consultation public. A conflict only arises where commercial interests insist that the information provided by publicly funded bodies remains proprietorial, and where profits rather than scientific endeavor or patient benefit are the motivation for the "consultation."
If biotechs are concerned only about patient's interests, then they should have no problem with an NIH scientist publishing the results of any inquiry openly so that all may examine whether a conflict occurs. This way, conflicts of a different nature would also be avoided, such as the suppressing of material when the consultations don't go biotech's way.
University of Lincoln, UK
In "The ailing brain" (18:48–9, Oct. 25, 2004), Axonyx headquarters should...