Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal published an article discussing how patent research can be used to disclose potential conflicts of interest.
According to The Journal, National Institutes of Health (NIH) researcher Charles Natanson co-wrote a Journal of the American Medical Association paper that found blood substitutes produced by Biopure Corp. and Northfield Laboratories (which have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration) could increase the chances of adverse health affects, including death or heart attack. Although disclosing that he had received money from a blood substitute company, Natanson did not acknowledge that his name appears on a patent application for an NIH-produced blood substitute -- a potential competitor with the blood substitutes named his paper.
Natanson said he forgot his name was on the patent and accepted responsibility for his error after criticism from Biopure and Northfield, which are now using the omission as grounds to repudiate Natanson’s conclusions about their blood substitutes.
For the full article see here.
Patent applications are made available for review by the general public 18 months after they are first submitted. For more about patents as a public record, see previous post.