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Doctors Groups Set New Policy To Avoid Big Pharma Conflicts

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, April 21, 2010 12:18 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Conflict-of-Interest, Nemeroff, Biederman, Harvard, Emory, Big Pharma, Medical Devices, Doctor Payments

650,000 doctors represented by professional medical societies will be covered by new policies to avoid conflict of interests.

Curb Industry Sway


IMAGE SOURCE: WikipediaCommons/ medications/ Tibor Kadek

A nice family trip to Hawaii. Lucrative speaking gigs. Big screen televisions.

Typically these have been among the perks doctors and researchers receive when they work indirectly representing drug or medical device companies.

According to a 2008 study from the University of Quebec, drug companies may pay doctors as much as $57 million a year, for speaking, promoting and medical seminars.

No more. The Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS) today released a sweeping though a voluntary code for professionals instructing them how to interact with for-profit companies in health care to assure that the interactions are “independent” and “transparent.”

"We take very seriously the trust that is placed in us by physicians and patients to be authoritative, independent voices in cancer care," ASCO's chief, Dr. Allen Lichter, who led the panel that developed the code, says in a news release.

The code prohibits leaders of societies or their editors from having a direct financial relationship with for-profit companies in the health care sector.

Among other things the code requires groups:

* Publicly post any industry support the group receives, such as money for continuing education sessions.

* Decline industry funding for developing medical practice guidelines, such as who should get a drug, a test or treatment. Require that most members of a guidelines panel be free of financial ties to industry.

* Disclose any financial ties that leaders and board members have with companies.

* Ban company or product names and logos from pens, bags and other giveaways at conferences.

CMSS is a 501c (3) non-profit, represents 32 professional medical societies with 650,000 members, from neurologists and obstetricians to family doctors and pediatricians. The code was developed by a 30-member task force.

13 medical societies have already reportedly agreed to adopt the code.

Last year, leading medical journals agreed to use a uniform conflict-of-interest disclosure form for researchers publishing in their journals, reports Associated Press.

Nemeroff and Emory

The thorny issue of conflicts came to light recently concerning psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff of Emory University.

A Senate investigation found that Nemeroff had failed to disclose payments of about $800,000 from Glaxo and revenue from more than 250 speaking engagements, reports Pharmalot.

Emory University is now a full supporter of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act that requires drug and device makers to disclose their payments to doctors. #

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