New Ethics Rules changing the look of biotech cooperative ventures

New rules about ethical conduct may encourage more scientists at NIH and other government agencies to head out for greener pastures in private industry.

We’ve written about this issue before. How close should the relationships be between government-sponsored researchers and the pharmaceutical and other private companies who stand to benefit immensely from resulting discoveries? The answers have been hard to define–but restrictive new regulations against. for example, accepting pay for speaking engagements and/or holding biotech stocks, are forcing some biotech investigators to rethink their plans. Government work doesn’t pay as well as private industry, so scientists have looked for outside ways–some of which are now being closed to them–to improve their compensation.

Some in the biotech sector feel this is a good thing–that more creative researchers on the loose will mean more entrepreneurialism and more new private companies. Not all collaborative work will be stopped–the NIH will still partner with private companies for certain functions such as implementing human testing of vaccines.

No matter how some things change, startup companies will continue to receive help and support so there’s no increased danger of strangling new research. Free enterprise, government work and ethics have been coexisting a long time–they’re bound to find a way through this, too.