Getting Hip to Conflict of Interest

Here’s a quick one:
Study Renews Conflict-Of-Interest Debate (by Lindsey Tanner writing for the Associated Press)

A new study showing that padded hip protectors didn’t prevent fractures in the elderly has renewed questions about hidden drug industry ties to medical research.
Three of the authors of the study on bone breaks didn’t tell editors of an influential medical journal, which is publishing their research Wednesday, that they had consulted for or received research money from the makers of bone-strengthening drugs. That potential conflict was discovered by The Associated Press.

OK, here’s the business ethics angle. There’s no claim, in this story, that the makers of bone-strengthening drugs had any direct involvement. The worry rather is that the three researchers failed to disclose a financial relationship that might reasonably be expected to influence their professional judgment. The question: do the companies involved (i.e., in the background) bear any responsibility? Could they be considered vicariously liable (I mean ethically, not legally)? Would tacit condoning of failure-to-disclose be anything like condoning perjury?
p.s., anyone interested in the pharmaceutical industry absolutely MUST check out this blog: Pharmalot

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