Conflicts of interest among academic dermatologists: freedom or constraint?


  • Funding sources None.
  • Conflicts of interest L.N. is responsible for a nonprofit research institution, the Study Centre of the Italian Group for Epidemiologic Research in Dermatology (GISED), which has received unrestricted research grants from pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies (Ketoprofen Consortium, Menarini, AbbVie, L'Oréal). L.N. qualified as a full professor in dermatology in a nationwide evaluation of scientific merits (MIUR 2013), but does not currently hold a permanent academic position in any Italian university. L.N. has served on advisory boards for AbbVie, Pfizer, Amgen, Novartis, Menarini, Boehringer Ingelheim and Sanofi.


Intangible and institutional conflicts of interest can particularly affect academia. Academic scientists have peculiar social responsibilities with respect to education and research. These responsibilities may conflict with the increased presence of industry in academia and commercialization of academic research through patents and royalties. Drug approval is almost entirely dependent worldwide on data produced in studies led by pharmaceutical industries. A reflection of the increasing role of the market in academic research is given by exaggerated claims in press releases by academic institutions. In consideration of the extensive presence of industry in academia, there is a need for a move from individual to institutional conflicts of interest disclosure, defining institutional policies for regulating conflicts of interest and developing an ‘ethically credible partnership’.