<p>Conflict of Interest Regulations Proposed by the Assembly of Scientists</p>

As scientists at the National Institutes of Health, we share the belief of director Elias Zerhouni and others, including Congress and the US public, that any financial conflict of interest at the agency is unacceptable and should be absolutely prohibited by regulations. We also recognize that some serious conflict-of-interest abuses have occurred at the NIH, which we find appalling and regrettable. However, we differ on the corrective measures imposed. These measures have gone far beyond conflict-of-interest issues, invaded privacy, and threatened to make the NIH unattractive to the best scientists, who are the foundation of its excellence.

The interim final regulations proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and by the NIH administration rest on two faulty assumptions: first, that every financial interest is a conflict of interest, and second, that comprehensive prohibitions are administratively easier and...

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