In February, the online magazine Slate published an article with the title, “Go Away, Ethics Police; Leave the NIH Alone.” The author of the piece was Richard Epstein, a law professor at the University of Chicago and a senior fellow at the Maclean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. The “ethics police” to whom Epstein objected were the critics who had pushed the National Institutes of Health (NIH) into adopting a strict new set of conflict-of-interest regulations. Last year, a muckraking series of reports in the Los Angeles Times revealed that some NIH scientists had parlayed their elite scientific positions into lucrative consulting contracts with the pharmaceutical industry.
Several NIH scientists had r...
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