When a data safety monitoring board found the AIDS drug Remune provided little benefit to patients involved in clinical trials, the principal investigator, James O. Kahn, put an end to the project. But when he and his colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco and Harvard University decided to publish the results, they ran into an obstacle: their project's corporate sponsor.

Immune Response Corp. (IRC), the drug's manufacturer, filed legal documents alleging that the UCSF team had violated its contract for financial support by publishing confidential proprietary material without the company's consent. Three months before the report was scheduled to appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association, IRC, which was paying 35 percent of Kahn's salary to UCSF, demanded that the principal investigator and the university pay $7 million in damages.

Kahn published anyway,1 bringing to light an ethical problem that researchers often end...

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