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Trust and Integrity in Biomedical Research: The Case of Financial Conflicts of Interest

Edited by Thomas H. Murray and Josephine Johnston
(Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010)

Highly Commended in the Basis of Medicine, 2011 BMA Medical Book Awards. British Medical Association

News of financial entanglements among biomedical companies and researchers has increasingly called into question the worth and integrity of medical studies, nearly three-fifths of which are funded by industry. This volume assesses the ethical, quantitative, and qualitative questions posed by the current financing of biomedical research.

The ten essays collected here reflect the wide range of opinions about perceived financial conflicts of interest in medical studies. The opening section provides an overview of the issue, describing the origins of, and concerns raised by, dubious financial arrangements; explaining how certain common situations intensify problematic funding structures; weighing the risks and benefits of commercialized research funding; and detailing the nature, extent, and consequences of the present relationship among academe, government, and industry in the health sciences. The second section compares how the idea of conflicts of interest differs in biomedical research, legal work, and journalism. It includes a challenging look at the term itself and an argument for managed financial incentives. The final section describes and analyzes the existing regulatory regime, poses questions and directions for future self and external regulation, and provides perspectives from a third-party research company.

This considered, balanced discussion will interest scholars of bioethics, public health, and health policy.