COI rules might delay drugs: report

In the name of protecting patients, conflict-of-interest (COI) rules imposed by medical schools and public agencies are actually harming them, according to a report from the Manhattan Institute's Project FDA.
The report, written by author and law professor Richard Epstein, who is a visiting scholar at the right-wing think tank, analyzes the negative impact COI rules have over the medical industry. As the regulations have proliferated, so, Epstein observes, has a “mounting wariness” toward collaboration.
“The pall of suspicion makes it appear that every scientist who works is ‘on the take,'” he notes, evoking Dr. Jerome Kassirer's 2005 book of the same name. “It's a very unhealthy set of tactics in my judgment.”
Surveying the entire medical innovation complex, from NIH to FDA to academic medical centers, the author cites roadblocks that arise from the policies. The FDA, for instance, has started demanding extensive public disclosure of financial ties and payments of experts appointed to its advisory committees. Yet a third of these positions are unfilled.
Such an environment threatens to disrupt the exchange of knowledge, degrade research and delay the provision of medicines and treatments, Epstein concluded: “To me...on average, it's a good investment of public time, money and effort to allow people to work in both camps, and the view that somehow this is impermissible has gone way over the top.”
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