February 28,2008

Grassley comments on guidelines from medical college and university associations about monitoring conflicts of interest among researchers and faculty


Senator Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Committee on Finance, issued thecomment below about new guidelines released today by the Association of American MedicalColleges (AAMC) and the Association of American Universities (AAU). For the completereport, go to: www.aamc.org/jointcoireport.

The guidelines call on universities and medical schools to develop and implementinstitutional financial conflict of interest policies within two years. These two organizationsoffer a model template and note the urgent necessity for all academic medical centers and majormedical research universities to address conflicts of interest consistently throughout theirorganizations.

Senator Grassley has been investigating problems with conflicts of interest beginningwith concerns over FDA advisory boards. Senator Grassley’s investigations also includeexaminations of the policies and reporting practices at over a dozen medical schools in theUnited States. Senator Grassley has found that medical schools have not adequately monitoredoutside income of their researchers and faculty. Cases have come to light where academics havefailed to report tens of thousands of dollars to their respective institutions. Senator Grassley hasintroduced with Senator Herb Kohl legislation to require pharmaceutical drug, medical deviceand biotechnology companies to disclose payments to physicians. The bill, S.2029, is titled thePhysician Payment Sunshine Act. Last November, Senator Grassley’s staff briefed theAssociation of American Colleges on the goals of this legislative initiative and the relatedoversight work.

Senator Grassley’s comment:

“These associations are setting worthy goals that ought to get the attention of America’suniversities. Institutions need to be more rigorous in monitoring the outside income ofuniversity researchers and faculty members from pharmaceutical drug and device companies.There’s evidence that this money can alter medicine and the public deserves to know the facts inconsidering any potential conflicts of interest.”