Medical Societies Sign Conflict of Interest Code


Fourteen medical specialty societies have signed a voluntary pledge to be more transparent in dealings with pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers and other for-profit companies in the health care field.

The pledge, issued by the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS), was the result of at least a year of negotiations, said Dr. Allen S. Lichter, who is chair of the CMSS Task Force on Professionalism and Conflict of Interest and the chief executive officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

The 14 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 also must disclose corporate contributions, board members' financial relationships with companies, and prohibit financial relationships for key association leaders.

The initial signers included the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American Academy of Neurology (AAN), American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPMR), American College of Cardiology (ACC), American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), American College of Physicians (ACP), American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM), American College of Radiology (ACR), American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), and ASCO.

Dr. Lichter called the code a “very important milestone” because it will create consistency where there has been none.

Many previous efforts to reduce conflicts have been done in private, but this effort is very much a public undertaking, designed to reassure the public and regulators that professional societies are acting ethically..

It is also, however, just a first step, he said. The code is not meant to be the last word; it represents a minimum set of guidelines.

Some organizations may choose to be more restrictive.

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 25-page code is available on the CMSS Web site at

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