Responding to a flood of stories regarding unseemly relationships between researchers and the private sector, the venerable Institute of Medicine has released a report that declares it’s time for the medical community to clean up its act.
“Such conflicts present the risk of undue influence on professional judgments and may jeopardize the integrity of scientific investigations, the objectivity of medical education, the quality of patient care, and the public’s trust in medicine,” the report said.
The report’s notable recommendations include:
Professional societies, academic medical centers, and medical journals should implement conflict-of-interest policies that require financial disclosures between their staff and Big Industry.
Practice guideline-writing groups should exclude participants that have conflicts of interest.
Insurance companies should avoid promulgating policies based on guidelines that could be perceived as having conflict of interest problems.
Scientists should not undertake human trials if they are tied financially to the outcome of the research.
Teaching hospitals should proscribe staff from engaging in industry-controlled presentations, accepting gifts and claiming they wrote ghost-written manuscripts.
The IOM panel that prepared the report was chaired by Bernard Lo, director of medical ethics at UCSF.
“We do not say that if you disclose, problems will go away,” Lo told MedPageToday. “(But) there are certain types of relationships that are longstanding that doctors should not engage in anymore.”
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America responded that Big Pharma is already “careful to ensure that relationships with healthcare professionals and students are ethical and appropriate.”
And a device maker advocacy group said her groups’ code of ethics already covers the bases.
“We feel that physicians and industry interaction is important,” said Wanda Moebius, VP for policy communications at AdvaMed. “It helps improve communication, drives innovation and improves patient care.”