The Cleveland Clinic is tightening up disclosure policies for its researchers after an internal review found a lack of attention to conflicts of interest within the renowned heart hospital.
The review found that actions need to be taken at the clinic to correct an imbalance between, as a clinic spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal, an "imbalance between innovation efforts and transparency."
It also pointed to problems with clinic Chief Executive Delos "Toby" Cosgrove, saying his disclosure practices "contained some shortcomings."
Dr. Eric Topol, former clinic chief academic officer and an early Vioxx critic, also said today he is leaving the hospital for reasons unknown to teach at nearby Case Western Reserve University. In December he was relieved of his duties but continued as head of the clinic's cardiology program, which he led for 14 years.
In related news, the Journal is reporting that Dr. Topol has retained Mark Lanier, the Houston lawyer who won the first Vioxx trial against Merck last year. The scientist would not discuss the nature of their work, but did deny rumors that he would become a Vioxx trial consultant.
The internal review was initiated by Dr. Cosgrove after a WSJ report on the activities of a clinic-backed venture-capital fund that owns a stake of a Cincinnati device firm, on whose behalf the clinic conducted research. Until recently, Dr. Cosgrove had a financial interest in the device firm, AtriCure.
The board has a commitment to change conflict-of-interest policies over the next few months, the spokeswoman told the Journal. Some already in force include notifying the institutional review board about investments made by the clinic.