University Summit in Kyushu 2007
Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan, 27-28 October
Session 3 : The University's Role in Health Sciences

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Michael D. FETTERS
Department of Family Medicine, University of Michigan


Research Collaboration and Ethical Considerations in University-Pharma
Relationships: A View from the University of Michigan


Globalization continues at an unprecedented pace, and in many regards, society has become borderless. Partnerships with industry can enhance universitiesf abilities to fulfill their mandates of education and research. As this international forum will examine how universities and pharma can collaborate to improve the health of communities, this presentation addresses: 1) the role of pharma funding research at the University of Michigan and 2) ethical considerations in the context of university-pharma collaborations.

In fiscal year 2006, Michigan Medical School received $987 million to support the clinical, research and teaching missions. Sources of revenue included: patient care (41%), grants-federal, industry, etc (35%), state and local government (4%), tuition (2%), other sources-gifts, hospital support (18%). In 2007, the breakdown of research awards by source included: federal (82%), industry (8%), non-profit organizations (7%), state/local government (1%), other sources (2%). Specifically, the university received $30.3 million from industry.

While there is growing interest in expanding university and pharma collaborations, there is also recognition of ethical concerns including: 1) exorbitant drug profits; 2) misrepresentation of research findings in publications and promotional materials; 3) influences on young doctors and medical students; 4) influences on doctors' prescribing behaviors and doctorsf requests to hospital formularies; 5) conflict of interest for researchers (researchers who shows beneficial effect of a drug are more likely to receive future research funding from the sponsor).

Collaboration between academic medical institutions and pharma can have mutual benefits for innovations, discovery, and enhancing the quality of life of people and communities. Increasing collaboration private industry including pharma is a University of Michigan institutional priority. However, ethical conflicts exist. There is a need for awareness about these ethical issues, and active management programs when conflict of interest occurs to maintain the integrity of the academic enterprise and trust of the community.