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COMMENTARY AND DISCUSSION An Academic Investigator's View of Collaboration with Industry LEON I. GOLDBERG* I agree with Dr. Udenfriend that ways must be found to stimulate academic investigators to obtain patents. Without a patent, it is extremely difficult to obtain industry cooperation in developing a drug. Fifteen years ago, on an NIH grant, my colleagues and I demonstrated the efficacy of a drug and requested permission from NIH to obtain a patent through our university. The response from NIH officials at that time was that we should publish the data immediately rather than seek a patent. In my opinion, the lack of patent delayed release of the drug more than 5 years. I understand that the NIH policy has since changed in favor of awarding patents to universities. I hope that Congress will extend this new policy to other government agencies. Another important point which Udenfriend developed was the need for facilitating collaboration between academia and the pharmaceutical industry. He said that more academic scientists should be encouraged to cooperate with industry in developing therapeutic agents and diagnostic tests. I agree that increased interaction has important intellectual and social benefits. It is important, however, to focus our attention on the kinds of interaction which would be mutually desirable and on some of the reasons more interactions have not taken place. The first problem to which Udenfriend alluded was that many academic scientists, particularly biologists, are not conscious of their role and do not participate. It seems to me that this problem can only be solved by increasing communications between academic and industrial scientists so that the academics will learn whom to contact and the type of studies in which cooperation is encouraged. Excellent interactions already exist between academic and industrial chemists: The need to»Departments of Pharmacological and Physiological Sciences and Medicine, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois 60637.© 1980 by The University of Chicago. 0031-5982/80/2322-0158$01.00 Perspectives in Biology and Medicine · Winter 1980 ¦ Part 2 I S89 utilize academic knowledge in new synthetic processes is clear. I am not sure of the types of interactions biologists can enter into or, indeed, whether industrial pharmacologists desire such collaboration. It would be extremely helpful to establish a joint academic-industrial committee to explore ways in which mutually useful interactions can be developed so that these needs can be communicated to the academic world. I can think of several ways in which increased cooperation would be valuable, but I need to know whether industrial scientists feel the same way. These include: development of new methodology, determination of mechanisms of drug action, detailed investigation of compounds which have exhibited unusual actions but are not of current therapeutic interest, and structure-activity relation studies. Several problems inhibit industrial-academic interaction; I will be frank in discussing them. First, some government agency employees have the impression that an academic scientist who cooperates with industry in research may have a conflict of interest and should be exluded from FDA panels. It seems to me that this impression has increased in the post-Watergate period, precipitated by certain consumer advocates who do not respect the integrity of either industrial or academic scientists . The difficulty is that this atmosphere of distrust has somehow been "legalized." The situation is especially unfortunate with regard to the FDA, because the FDA needs the same kind of expertise on its panels as does industry. Sonnenreich recently told me that the problem originates more with Justice Department rulings than with the FDA. It is unfortunate that the federal government cannot distinguish between collaboration in research, where no conflict of interest should exist, and collaboration in commercial aspects of the pharmaceutical industry, where a conflict of interest does exist. To eliminate suspicion, research work should be totally separate from sales. Most pharmaceutical firms are very careful to maintain this separation , but I can cite instances in my own experience in which efforts have been made to utilize my research collaboration as an entry tö a sales effort. This is a particularly sensitive issue for academic pharmacologists and clinical pharmacologists who are responsible for educating medical students and housestaff in appropriate use of drugs and who...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. S89-S91
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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