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Executive Summary

The Journal of the American Medical Association will consider a new requirement for authors to disclose the sources of honoraria as part of the journal's effort to make information on affiliations and/or financial involvement above board. The journal editor, George Lundberg, MD, commented on the disclosure policy at a June 13 hearing of the House Government Operations/Human Resources and Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee. JAMA already requires authors to list all financial ties relevant to the research they seek to have published. However, authors have not been specifically requested to disclose honoraria. Chairman Weiss (D-N.Y.) raised the issue of honoraria and the potential for influence on research at the subcommittee hearings. Lundberg responded to Weiss by suggesting that JAMA may include a disclosure of honoraria requirement when the journal next revises its instructions to authors. "Honoraria are a big problem, obviously the word is a euphemism," Lundberg commented. "Honoraria are hardly gifts, they are almost fees . . . maybe because of the committee's interest we would consider putting honoraria in the parenthesis the next time we revise our instructions to authors. I appreciate the suggestion." Lundberg made his comments on honoraria in response to questioning by Weiss. Honoraria and their potential influence on the independence of federally supported researchers have been an ongoing focus of the Weiss subcommittee ("The Pink Sheet," May 8, T&G-11). The National Institutes of Health and the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration are planning a two-day conference later this month (June 27-28) on conflict of interest issues. One of the issues on the agenda will be the treatment of honoraria (see list). The conference will be held at NIH's Masur Auditorium in Bethesda, Maryland. At the June 13 hearing, Weiss focused on the appropriateness of the lead investigator in one study (an amoxicillin otitis study at the University of Pittsburgh) receiving "more than $ 50,000 in honoraria for the last three years (1985-1987) and more than $ 25,000 per year to travel." Weiss attributed the honoraria to three drug firms, all prominent in the field of otitis medications. The corporate sponsors of the honoraria, according to subcommittee staffers, were Eli Lilly, Beecham, and Glaxo. NIH CONFLICT OF INTEREST CONFERENCE: ANTICIPATED TOPICS FOR JUNE 27-28 MEETING NIH Director Wyngaarden listed these subjects in prepared testimony for the June 13 hearing of the House Government Operations Subcommittee chaired by Rep. Weiss (D-N.Y.). * When, if ever, might ownership of a commercial research enterprise or involvement in a research business venture not constitute a conflict of interest with one's government-sponsored research? * Will a researcher's financial interest, stock ownership, agreement with equipment manufacturers, etc., necessarily influence research results? * How should consultantships to industry, including payment of honoraria for speaking at industry-sponsored meetings, be treated? * Should researchers be permitted to benefit financially from information obtained in the course of research?

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