More Outsourced Science Raises More Questions

"The public interest and the private interest aren't always the same thing," said Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), as Congress prepares to investigate "possible conflicts of interest involving medical research firms such as the Constella Group." The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) "hired Constella to prepare its official listing of carcinogens, which included the human papilloma virus," while Constella "was also doing work for two drug manufacturers that were developing a vaccine for the virus," reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In addition, the federal government has paid Constella "to monitor the use of vaccines throughout the country" since 2000, even though Constella "has worked for numerous drug and vaccine manufacturers, including Merck." An NIH spokesperson said the agency is "concerned about the potential for conflicts of interest," and is "currently reviewing our policies and procedures." Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, who chairs Constella's advisory board, would not comment. A Constella spokesperson said, "We are not concerned should a [Congressional] hearing be held because we act ethically."