The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in 2000 examining the policies regarding conflicts of interest between investigators and companies involved in clinical trials at the top ten medical schools in the USA receiving federal funds. Amazingly, the results vary widely. All ten universities require professors to disclose financial interests to the university if they exceed 10,000 dollars. Only 1 of the top ten schools "prohibited investigators from having stock, stock options, consulting agreements, or decision-making positions involving a company that sponsored the research."
To me this is a mistake. We have discussed multiple instances in this subforum of direct conflicts of interest between biotech and academics. Its time for the Universities to step in and take responsibility for their faculty. This was published in 2000, so its very likely that policies have changed. I want to end with the last line from this paper that does a good job of expressing the potential problems that can arise when an investigator is financially tied to a company and running a "nonbiased" clinical trial.
"We disagree with recent suggestions that prohibitions on stock, stock options, or decision-making positions be imposed only on investigators who are responsible for the selection of subjects, informed consent, or clinical management.2,23 Bias may also occur in the design of the study, the ascertainment of outcomes, or the interpretation of results."