Working Group on Ethical Considerations for Industry Partnership on Research to Help End the Opioid Crisis


NIH has been intensely engaged for several months in planning stages with the Foundation for NIH (FNIH) and potential external partners to identify and outline options for collaboration to address the opioid crisis. Discussions have included dozens of companies, a few of which manufacture opioids and are the target of current litigation by several state Attorneys General and other entities. While there may be significant opportunity to advance addiction and treatment research with the financial, technical, and intellectual support of this substantial roster of private sector companies, one must consider the ethics of accepting contributions from those companies that are perceived as having contributed to the crisis. As a likely member of this potential partnership, FNIH is also contemplating these issues, which will be discussed in detail at an FNIH board meeting in March.


To make recommendations about considerations and appropriate ethical boundaries for engaging with and accepting resources from opioid producers, to support research to redress the opioid crisis.

To inform its deliberations, the working group may: identify the risks (including ethical, governance, reputational, and relationship risks) and benefits of accepting such resources; examine options for funding and/or governance structures that might mitigate ethical risks, identify concerns and real or perceived conflicts-of-interest; and assess existing guidance for protecting the integrity of research funded by industries with real or perceived ethical conflicts.


  • Francis Cuss, MB, MChir, FRCP
    Retired Executive Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer and Head of R&D
    Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Christine Grady, Ph.D., M.S.N.
    Chief, Department of Bioethics, Clinical Center
  • Larry Gostin, J.D.
    University Professor
    Founding O’Neill Chair in Global Health Law
    Faculty Director, O’Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law
    Director, World Health Organization Collaborating Center on National & Global Health Law
    Georgetown University
  • Steven Joffe, M.D., M.P.H.
    Chief, Division of Medical Ethics
    Emanuel and Robert Hart Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy
    Professor of Pediatrics
    University of Pennsylvania
  • Steve Katz, M.D., Ph.D.
    Director, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
  • Alan Leshner, Ph.D.
    CEO Emeritus
    American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Bertha Madras, Ph.D.
    Professor of Psychobiology, Department of Psychiatry
    Harvard Medical School
  • Gary Mendell
    Founder, Chairman and CEO
  • Christin Veasley
    Co-founder and Director
    Chronic Pain Research Alliance


  • Geoffrey Ginsburg, M.D., Ph.D.
    Director, Center for Applied Genomics & Precision Medicine
    Duke University
  • Roy Wilson, M.D.
    Wayne State University
  • Carrie Wolinetz, Ph.D.
    Associate Director for Science Policy
    Acting Chief of Staff, NIH


  • Barbara McGarey, J.D.
    Deputy Associate General Counsel
    Office of the General Counsel
    Public Health Division, NIH Branch

This page last reviewed on March 21, 2018