The Association of American Medical Colleges plans to create a new task force to address concerns about conflict-of-interest charges in clinical research at medical schools and teaching hospitals.
In a speech at the group's annual meeting in Chicago last month, AAMC President Jordan Cohen, M.D., said the "first assignment" for the yet-to-be-created task force will be to re-examine the existing guidelines and suggest changes that better reflect contemporary realities.
Cohen told the gathering, "We risk great peril if we fail to respond to the growing perception that financial conflicts-of-interest have gotten out of control."
That perception, he added pointedly, "is shared by Congress and by the Department of Health and Human Services."
Cohen said headlines over the past few years about clinical research, including those last year on the deaths of patients enrolled in gene-therapy trials, compel the medical community "to visibly strengthen those safeguards so that we can, with confidence, assure everyone that our financial conflicts of interest are being managed effectively."
Cohen suggested eight new safeguards that the task force might use as starting points, including asking schools to comply with existing full-disclosure requirements and to incorporate disclosure of financial interests in the informed-consent process for research that involves humans.