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Medical Societies Set New Policy for Industry Influence

Chicago, IL – The Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS) on Wednesday announced the release of the CMSS Code for Interactions with Companies. The code provides detailed guidance to medical specialty societies on appropriate interactions with for-profit companies in the health care sector. The voluntary code is designed to ensure that societies’ interactions with companies are independent and transparent, and advance medical care for the benefit of patients and populations. CMSS represents 32 leading medical professional societies, with a collective membership of more than 650,000 U.S. physicians.

“CMSS is committed to encouraging and supporting a culture of integrity, voluntary self-regulation and transparency,” said Dr. James Scully, CMSS President and CEO of the American Psychiatric Association. “This code provides a clear benchmark for maintaining integrity and independence.”

“Physicians and patients count on medical societies to be authoritative, independent voices in science and medicine,” said Dr. Allen Lichter, CEO of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and Chair of the CMSS Task Force on Professionalism and Conflict of Interest, which developed the code. “By adopting this code, societies demonstrate their commitment to the highest level of ethical standards in their activities and to providing the best possible care for patients and populations.”

“The private sector plays a central role in developing new treatments and medical advances, and medical societies collaborate with industry in many ways that benefit medical practice. We developed this code to ensure that those relationships are appropriate, and to ensure public confidence in our objectivity and commitment to high-quality care,” aid Dr. Norman Kahn, Executive Vice President, and CEO of CMSS.

The CMSS code was developed by a 30-member task force consisting of the leaders of member societies. At the time of this release, 13 medical societies have already formally adopted the code and committed to fully implementing it. Others plan to adopt it over the coming months, and many members already have rigorous policies in place that meet or exceed some of the principles in the code. The full code, and the list of signers who have adopted it thus far, are available on the CMSS website at www.cmss.org/codeforinteractions.aspx.

The code includes seven core principles and detailed guidance on implementation. The principles cover the following key areas:

  • Conflicts of Interest: Develop and publicly post policies and procedures to disclose and manage conflicts of interest among those who participate in society activities (e.g., medical meetings, clinical practice guidelines, scientific journals).
  • Financial Disclosure: Publicly disclose donations and support received from for-profit companies in the health sector, and disclose Board members’ financial and uncompensated relationships with companies.
  • Independent Program Development: Develop and make publicly available policies and procedures that ensure that educational programs, advocacy positions, and research grants are developed independent of industry supporters.
  • Independent Leadership: Prohibit society leaders (presidents, CEOs, and editors-in-chief of society journals) from having direct financial relationships with relevant for-profit companies in the health care sector.

The 25-page code recognizes that CMSS member societies have different organizational structures and may apply its requirements differently based on their unique activities and infrastructure. Further, some societies may choose to adopt policies that are more rigorous than what the code requires.

One comment

  1. The new code is great news. Clinical practice is rife with conflicts of interest with industry. Avoiding these conflicts whenever possible, and disclosing them when avoidance is impossible, is the best way to ensure that patients’ interests are protected.

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