While the percentage of institutional review board (IRB) members with an industry relationship has not changed significantly since 2005, the percentage of members who felt other members had not properly disclosed a financial relationship has decreased as did the percentage of IRB members who felt pressure from their institution or department to approve a protocol, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.
Academic-industry relationships are defined as academics who provide life science companies (for example biotechnology, drug and device companies) with their knowledge, skills, services or intellectual property in exchange for payment to the scientist or their institution.
Eric G. Campbell, Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and colleagues replicated a 2005 study that members of their group conducted to understand changes in the nature, extent and consequences of industry relationships among IRB members in academic health centers. A survey was mailed to IRB members from the 115 most research-intensive medical schools and teaching hospitals in the United States. The final analytic data set included survey responses from 439 members in 2005 and 493 members in 2014.
The authors found that:
"The good news is that during the past decade, significant progress has been made in disclosing and managing COIs [conflicts of interest] among IRB members. Nevertheless, there is still work to be done, including educating members about what constitutes a COI, stopping IRB members with COIs from voting on protocols with which they have a conflict, and researching bias in the presentation of industry-sponsored protocols," the study concludes.
This study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health.
Commentary: Advancing Science in the Service of Humanity
In a related commentary, Laura Weiss Roberts, M.D., M.A., of Stanford University School of Medicine, California, writes: "The findings by Campbell et al suggest that actions and safeguards related to IRB oversight have improved in recent years, but there is progress to be made in attaining the conditions needed for the ethical conduct of human studies."
Cite This Page: