Are Government Health Services Researchers in Conflicts of Interest?

An article by Andreas Laupacis in HealthyDebate.ca reviews conflicts of interest with respect to government and contract health services researchers, and raises some provocative issues not often discussed even amongst COI watchdogs:

For example, Evidencenetwork.ca, a web site that provides journalists and others with access to “non-partisan health policy experts and evidence” removed me from their list of experts because I received about $15,000 per year for work I did for three pharmaceutical companies (being a member of Data Monitoring Committees and providing advice about the design of clinical trials). However, my guess is that they would not have seen any significant conflict of interest with my previous role as CEO of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (a health services research institute that receives millions of dollars of funding from the government of Ontario), even though the personal payment I received from public provincial funds was much greater than what I received from pharma, and when I was CEO I had a clear interest in not criticising the Ontario government publicly about their health policies, because government support was essential for the survival of ICES.

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