The American College of Cardiology is one of several medical specialty societies that have signed a voluntary pledge to be more transparent in dealings with pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers and other for-profit health care companies.
The pledge, issued by the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS), capped a year of negotiations, said Dr. Allen S. Lichter, chair of the CMSS Task Force on Professionalism and Conflict of Interest and the CEO of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
“CMSS is committed to encouraging and supporting a culture of integrity, voluntary self-regulation, and transparency,” said Dr. James H. Scully Jr., CMSS president and chief executive officer of the American Psychiatric Association. “This code provides a clear benchmark for maintaining integrity and independence.”
The societies adopting the CMSS Code for Interactions With Companies agree to establish and publish conflict of interest policies as well as policies and procedures to ensure separation of program development from sponsor influence. They must disclose corporate contributions and board members' financial relationships with companies, and must prohibit financial relationships for key association leaders.
“Properly managed partnerships with industry are absolutely critical to maintaining scientific progress in cardiology and other specialties,” Dr. Jack Lewin, CEO of the ACC said in a statement. “This code is a step in the right direction for specialty societies and reaffirms our commitment to the highest ethical standards as we continue to move toward responsible, transparent relationships that will allow us to maintain quality education and research in cardiovascular medicine.”
The ACC noted that it posts funding sources as well as disclosures for all trustees, committee chairs, and state chapter governors on its Web site.
Other signers include the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Neurology, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Physicians, American Society for Radiation Oncology, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the Society of Critical Care Medicine.
Dr. Lichter called the code a “very important milestone” because it will create consistency where there has been none and because it is a public undertaking.
The code represents a minimum set of guidelines. Some organizations may choose to be more restrictive, he said.
According to the CMSS, the code was developed by a 30-member task force. More of the 32 members of the CMSS plan to adopt the code in the next few months.
The code is available at www.cmss.org/codeforinteractions.aspx