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New ethics rules at NIH

Top scientists now required to reveal financial ties to companies dealing with agency

Ted Agres(tedagres@lycos.com)

Senior officials at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) must now file public financial disclosure forms revealing their incomes as well as any stock, fees, and payments from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that have dealings with the agency. The policy change was announced Monday (March 1) at the first meeting of NIH's Blue Ribbon Panel on Conflict of Interest Policies. Previously, NIH officials had been required to disclose this information, but the reports remained confidential.

Edgar M. Swindell, associate general counsel for ethics at the Department of Health and Human Services, told the panel that all NIH directors, deputy directors, scientific directors, and clinical directors are now required to file public disclosure forms, known as SF 278s, rather than the confidential OGE 450s. The change, which was requested by NIH director Elias A. Zerhouni and issued February 6, affects 66 senior officials. "An evaluation is underway to identify other positions...

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