Grassley Opposes Drug Research Transparency Changes

Monday, 08 Aug 2011 04:38 AM

By Greg McDonald

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Reacting to a report that a health research transparency rule may be weakened, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is demanding that no changes be made to a planned website that would detail the financial interests of researchers who receive federal grants and ensure there are no conflicts of interest.
In a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, Grassley cautioned against removing the requirement that any ties between taxpayer-funded researchers and companies be posted online for public scrutiny.
The requirement was included in new conflict-of-interest proposals issued last year by the Department of Health and Human Services to help oversee research funding under the National Institutes of Health {NIH} to universities and medical centers. 
The 2012 administration budget request for NIH, Grassley noted in a statement from his office, is $32 billion, with 83 percent of it earmarked for research grants to colleges and medical facilities.
If fully implemented, Grassley said the guidelines would require research institutions “to determine potential conflicts of interest grant by grant,” including whether a grant recipient owns shares in a company “that could cause bias in his or her federally-funded research.”
“If the online requirement is gone, it will be much harder for the public to see and use this information, said Grassley. “Without public scrutiny, we’d lose a valuable layer of oversight.”
Grassley’s own research has revealed a number of conflicts concerning grant recipients in the past, and last year he joined with Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wisc, to push through a bill that would require public disclosure of drug company and medical device manufacturer payments to doctors.

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