Wednesday, February 02, 2005

NIH Seeks "Higher Standard" - Better Late Than Never

Finally, the headline reads "NIH Seeks 'Higher Standard.'" More than 13 months after the Los Angeles Times published its first investigative report detailing serious conflicts of interest affecting top NIH leaders, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni has decided the time has come to provide "at least one source of public health information in the country that can be completely trusted," and "we need to hold NIH and ourselves as scientists at NIH to a higher standard, because we do have national public health responsibilities." Of course, prior to the alteration of the NIH rules and disclosure requirements about possible conflicts in the 1990's, the NIH was a completely trusted source of science. But for 13 months, Zerhouni and his organization fought restrictions on outside income for full-time government employees, even as it was revealed that some NIH leaders were making hundreds of thousands as "consultants" to pharmaceutical and biotech companies. See our previous discussions here and here. But now, at least Zerhouni admits "I've changed my mind." Better late than never....

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