APA to submit comments on proposed HHS conflict of interest rule

APA will voice its concern about HHS’s revised definition of Significant Financial Interest

At press time, APA was preparing comments in response to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking from the Public Health Service, which proposes to modify its conflict of interest rules. The comment period for this federal regulation (PDF, 273 KB), titled “Responsibility of Applicants for Promoting Objectivity in Research for Which Public Health Service Funding is Sought and Responsible Prospective Contractors,” was extended until August 9, 2010.

APA is broadly supportive of efforts to maintain the public trust and ensure scientific integrity. However, as a nonprofit organization that encourages the participation of its members in such activities as peer review, journal editing, site visits, volunteer service and governance, APA will voice its concern about HHS’s revised definition of Significant Financial Interest (SFI). The proposed regulation drops several categories of formerly excluded income and lowers the amount of outside income that may flag an SFI from $10,000 to $5,000. APA will comment that the Public Health Service should exclude income that supports the scientific enterprise, such as reimbursement for services of journal editing, peer review, advisory committee membership and nonprofit association governance. If reimbursement for expenses for those types of activities should flag an SFI, APA members may be much less inclined to offer their time and talents to help maintain the human infrastructure of science.

A link to APA’s comments will be included in the next issue of SPIN.