Gaps exist for adopting conflicts of interest policies among medical schools

February 12, 2008

A minority of U.S. medical schools surveyed have adopted policies on conflicts of interest regarding financial interests held by the institutions, while at least two-thirds have policies applying to financial interests of institutional officials, according to a study in the February 13 issue of JAMA.

Institutional academic-industry relationships exist when academic institutions or their senior officials have a financial relationship with or a financial interest in a public or private company. “Institutional conflicts of interest (ICOI) occur when these financial interests affect or reasonably appear to affect institutional processes. These potential conflicts are a matter of concern because they severely compromise the integrity of the institution and the public’s confidence in that integrity,” the authors write. They add that these conflicts may also affect research results. The Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) have recommended policies regarding ICOI.

Susan H. Ehringhaus, J.D., of the Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, D.C., and colleagues assessed the extent to which U.S. medical schools have adopted ICOI policies. The authors conducted a national survey of deans of all 125 accredited allopathic medical schools in the U.S., administered between February 2006 and December 2006, and received responses from 86 (69 percent).

The researchers found that 38 percent (30) of survey respondents have adopted an ICOI policy covering financial interests held by the institution, 37 percent (29) are working on adopting an ICOI policy covering financial interests held by the institution, and 25 percent (20) are not working on adopting such a policy or do not know.

“Much higher numbers are reflected for ICOI policies that cover the individual financial interests of officials: with adoption of policies for senior officials (55 [71 percent]), midlevel officials (55 [69 percent]), institutional review board (IRB) members (62 [81 percent]), and governing board members (51 [66 percent]); and with adoption of policies being worked on for senior officials (9 [12 percent]), midlevel officials (12 [15 percent]), IRB members (6 [8 percent]), and governing board members (2 [3 percent]),” the authors write.

Most institutions treat as potential ICOI the financial interests held by an institutional research official for a research sponsor (43 [78 percent]) or for a product that is the subject of research (43 [78 percent]). The majority of institutions have adopted organizational structures that separate research responsibility from investment management and from technology transfer responsibility. The researchers add that gaps exist in institutions informing their IRBs of potential ICOI in research projects under review.

“While acknowledging that adoption of ICOI policies is not a simple task and is dependent on, among other factors, highly interactive institutional databases and the active involvement of faculty, administrative officials, and the institution’s governing board(s), it is problematic that more schools do not have more comprehensive policies in place,” the authors write.

“The gaps in coverage suggest the need for continuing attention by the academic medical community to more consistently and comprehensively address the challenges presented by ICOI.”

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Sugar industry withheld evidence of sucrose's health effects nearly 50 years ago

November 21, 2017
A U.S. sugar industry trade group appears to have pulled the plug on a study that was producing animal evidence linking sucrose to disease nearly 50 years ago, researchers argue in a paper publishing on November 21 in the ...

Female researchers pay more attention to sex and gender in medicine

November 7, 2017
When women participate in a medical research paper, that research is more likely to take into account the differences between the way men and women react to diseases and treatments, according to a new study by Stanford researchers.

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.