Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has sent letters to members of Congress asking lawmakers who oversee funding for the National Institutes of Health to hold the agency accountable for monitoring conflicts of interest among researchers receiving NIH funds.
The letters, sent Wednesday, were in response to a report issued earlier this year accusing the NIH of providing almost no oversight of grants awarded to researchers at universities and other facilities. According to the report, NIH officials are failing to enforce a federal law requiring grant recipients to disclose funding and consulting fees received from pharmaceutical and medical-device companies.
I am discovering that these regulations may be nothing more than words with little if any teeth, Grassley wrote in his letters to lawmakers.
Grassley has also asked NIH Director Elias Zerhouni to look into unreported potential conflicts of interest among medical researchers at the University of Cincinnati, Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. The researchers, he said, received NIH grants, but failed to report outside income from sources such as pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca as well as millions of dollars in payments from drug companies. -- by Shawn Rhea