Universities Take Steps To Curb Pharmaceutical Industry Influence
Some major universities have begun to examine their policies on funds that they receive from pharmaceutical companies amid criticism from Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Wall Street Journal reports.
The committee has contacted more than 20 universities -- such as Harvard, Stanford, Texas and Brown -- about potential undisclosed financial ties between university researchers and pharmaceutical companies that could result in conflicts of interest.
Grassley seeks to have NIH withdraw grants from universities that fail to disclose their financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.
Grassley said, "Starting today, the NIH could send a signal that business as usual is over. ... The simple threat of losing prestigious and sizable NIH grants would force accurate financial disclosure."
NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, who has questioned whether the agency has the authority to take such action, on Tuesday met with the committee staff to discuss the issue.
Jerome Kassirer, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, said, "Universities have been treading on dangerous ground with their increasingly complex financial ties to industry," adding, "They are worried that these things could ultimately affect their tax-free status" (Mundy, Wall Street Journal, 9/11).