Conflict of interest can arise even with careful screening and complete disclosure of personal relations. It is imperative that checks and balances be maintained in order to avoid such conflicts of interest. In all cases, having a central authority that develops regulations for screening of donations in all capacities, including in politics, socio-economic and nonprofit sectors is extremely important. Disclosing personal relationships that benefit board members in the non profit sector is at the moment an ethical issue which can be skirted through since nondisclosure does not have legal implications.
Taking the case of biomedical research, Bekelman, Li and Gross (2003) state that there are many researchers who have affiliations within the industry and this has a deep impact on how much funding is received for research and what kind of research is being conducted. Moreover, about only one third of academic institutions are such that they do not have equity association with organizations who sponsor the academic institution’s research. Bekelman, Li and Gross (2003) studied eight articles which combine the study of about 1,140 researches, evaluating the association of industry with research and the impact of sponsorship and conflict of interest.
They have found that there is statistical significance between research being conducted inclusive of conflict of interest and sponsorships being received from the industry. They believe that this conflict of interest in the biomedical research field can have a vast impact in many important ways. Moreover, there is no way to determine how deep this conflict of interest runs and how its extent should be managed since there is no single body monitoring such conflict of interest. (Bekelman, Li and Gross, 2003)
Bekelman, J, Li, Y and Gross, C (2003) Scope and Impact of Financial Conflicts of Interest in Biomedical Research, A Systematic Review. Journal of American Medical Association. 289:454-465.