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"Ok, Ok--So I Hid My Industry Ties, But Everybody's Doin' It!"

Monday, August 7, 2006


Recently there's been plenty of debate within scientific, regulatory, and public health circles about the role of industry funding in scientific research and on government advisory panels--with robust arguments from each side. But almost everyone--including the FDA, the American Chemistry Council, and the Society of Toxicology agree on one point: full disclosure of professional associations and financial interests is the bare minimum necessary to safeguard the public interest. Well, according to The Scientist magazine, there's one "expert" out there who won't be swayed by prevailing morality. That man is Dennis Paustenbach, CEO of the risk assessment firm ChemRisk, and repeat-participant on EPA and NAS advisory panels. On his secretive role ghostwriting a landmark study which sidelined efforts to raise cromium-6 drinking water standards The Scientist reports:

Paustenbach, however, told The Scientist that ChemRisk scientists are not the only contributors who have been less than forthcoming. "If the Journal [of Occupational and Environmental Medicine] was using those [full-disclosure] rules over the last 10 years, I think they'd find dozens of papers to have inadequacies in disclosure."

Dr. Paustenbach must've had his fingers crossed when he pledged to uphold these tenets in the Society of Toxicology Code of Ethics:

Conduct their work with objectivity and themselves with integrity. Being honest and truthful in reporting and communicating their research.

Abstain from professional judgments influenced by undisclosed conflict of interest, disclose any material conflicts of interest and avoid situations that imply a conflict of interest.

Practice high standards of environmental and occupational health and safety for the benefit of themselves, their co-workers, their families, their communities, and society as a whole.

Past news coverage of ChemRisk misconduct.

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