Nehad Mikhael


Medical research plays a vital role in advancing human knowledge, developing new therapies and procedures, and reducing human suffering. Following the atrocities committed in the name of medical research by German physicians during the Nazi era, the Nuremberg trials were held, and an ethical code was created to establish the limits within which medical research can operate. Consequently, legal regimes built upon this ethical foundation to develop laws that ensure the integrity of medical research and the safety of human subjects. These laws sought to protect human subjects by minimizing conflicts of interest that may arise during the process. Furthermore, conflicts of interest may be financial such as monetary gain, or nonfinancial such as promotion and career advancement. However, with a $1.1 billion median cost of developing a new drug, the focus of these laws was directed towards financial conflicts of interest. But should we expand these laws to include nonfinancial conflicts of interest? This Article highlights prominent arguments in favor of and against the regulation of nonfinancial conflicts of interest in medical research. It further concludes that adequate institutional policies—not additional regulations—strike the right balance between the need to safeguard against the harmful effects of nonfinancial conflicts of interest on the one hand and avoiding the drawbacks of overregulation on the other.