NIH: COI vs. ROI
Prompted by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's inquiry on alleged conflicts of interest at FDA and NIH, both agencies are reviewing industrial consulting by their employees over the last five years to determine if any arrangements were improperly approved.
The inquiry already has produced proposals to substantially reduce consulting opportunities for key NIH personnel and to ban the use of stock options as consultant compensation. Although companies are reluctant to discuss their relationships with NIH consultants, some agency watchers warn that a move to halt paid consulting would cripple NIH's already strained ability to recruit and retain top scientists. Industry, on the other hand, still would be free to consult directly with academics.
Underlying the remuneration issue are how requests