Harvard Medical School to relax conflict of interest policy

Boston-based Harvard Medicine and its teaching hospitals will now operate under a relaxed conflict-of-interest policy regarding its researchers and their financial relationships to products in clinical trials.

In an interview with STAT, Harvard Medical School Dean Jeffrey Flier, MD, said the school made a "small tweak" to its conflict of interest policy. The policy, established in 1990, was the strictest in the country, Gretchen Brodnicki, Harvard Medical School dean for faculty and research integrity, told STAT. The school began reviewing its policy last year due to complaints it was too restrictive, according to the report. This will be the second change the school has made since it began its review, according to the report.

The rule was loosened across the following three elements, according to STAT.

1. Faculty will be permitted to conduct research on a company's products if they receive less than $25,000 in annual income from the company, up from $10,000.

2. Research will be permitted if faculty hold up to $50,000 in equity, up from $30,000, of a publicly-traded company. Faculty are prohibited from conducting research if they hold any equity in a privately-held company in question, according to the report.

3. Researchers are now able to petition for an exemption to the above rules and the system's ethics committee will review the case, according to the report.

Read the full story here.


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