Members Only

Controlling Conflict of Interest Position Statement

The title of the Society shall be ’Society for Acute Medicine’ (SAM). Its object shall be to promote better care of patients who present with acute medical illness. In pursuing this object the Society shall:

  • Promote education of medical, nursing and paramedical staff in Acute Medicine.
  • Facilitate and co-ordinate the collection of data relevant to acute medical assessments and admissions.
  • Facilitate collaborative research in the area of Acute Medicine.
  • Promote the creation of appropriate environments for acute medical assessments and admissions.
  • Share good practice.
  • Promote the acute care models that exist as examples of improving the management of patients with acute medical problems
  • Provide encouragement to all members of the multi-disciplinary team that work in Acute Medicine.

SAM is the Society for Acute Medicine and as such plays an essential role in defining and advancing standards of acute medicine and developing the speciality of Acute Internal Medicine. Its conferences, practice guidelines, definitions of ethical norms, and public advocacy positions carry great weight with physicians and the public.

Conflict-of-interest policies of SAM should “protect the integrity of professional judgment” and “preserve public trust”. A conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgment or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest.

As others have done, SAM seeks to balance the “important benefits” of physician-industry relations, such as research and education funding and the development of new types of investigations and treatments with the “significant risks that the financial goals of industry may conflict with the professional goals of medicine”.

GENERAL BUDGET SUPPORT

Institutional memberships grants are accepted by SAM for the purpose of supporting its mission and developing its objectives.

All funds from industry should be truly unrestricted. The donated funds should be pooled and administered through a central repository. SAM must have the freedom to set its own course and to modify both its goals and priorities, including the freedom to take positions on health-related issues that may be unfavourable to its funders. No single industry source should be responsible for the majority of total funding to SAM.

SAM CONFERENCES

Industry supports SAM meetings in a variety of ways, providing substantial funding.

A. Industry Sponsorship of Conference Programs. It is common practice for industry to fund conference programs. SAM should establish safeguards to limit industry influence. The SAM council has the responsibility to distribute unrestricted, educational grants from industry. This committee has exclusive authority to select program topics and speakers.

B. Conflict-of-Interest Standards for Conference Committee Members. Because of their ability to influence the content of educational programs, members of conference committees should adhere to SAM conflict-of-interest guidelines. The choice of topics and speakers is so essential to the integrity of the conference that independence of choice must be fully preserved and conflict-of-interest disclosures from officers and speakers at meetings should be made public.

C. Satellite symposia. Independent industry organized satellite symposia are allowed in SAM congresses. However, they are not the responsibility of SAM council and satellite symposia agendas have to be distinct from the official conference program.

INDUSTRY FUNDS FOR RESEARCH

To promote scientific progress, SAM should be able to accept grants for general support of research from pharmaceutical and device companies, provided that the grants are not designated for use by specific individuals. As long as SAM stands between the individual and the company making the grant, the likelihood of undue influence is minimized. To better ensure independence, scientific integrity, and full transparency, consulting agreements and unconditional grants should be posted on the publicly available SAM website. Research funds from industry, like educational support from industry, should go to an SAM central repository or committee as described above. The research awards should be peer reviewed without any involvement from industry.

TRAINING PROGRAMS

Industry may offer funding to SAM to support fellowships and training programs for SAM members. Providing these members with the opportunity to undertake intensive study, training, travel to educational meetings, and research is crucial for building a cohort of skilled healthcare professionals and researchers. But as in the case of funding for research, decision making about which members are chosen and the specific disciplines from which they are selected must be determined by the SAM alone.

SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS

Given the importance of the findings and recommendations of SAM, both the creation and distribution of guidelines and other advisory materials should be independent of industry funding. No SAM scientific publication should bear the logo of a drug or device company. SAM scientific documents should always stand alone, should not be associated with a commercial brand, and ghost writing prohibited.

SAM PRESIDENT, COUNCIL MEMBERS AND OTHER OFFICERS

The reputation of SAM is based on the quality and integrity of its leaders. They speak for the society and are most visible to the public and the profession. SAM leaders also exert the greatest influence on policy, deciding which issues are to be addressed and the composition of the committees that will conduct the evaluations and issue the findings. Therefore, it is essential that the President, the council officer and members, and other officers be held to the highest standards in avoiding conflict of interest. SAM should have a formal mechanism for reviewing disclosures of conflict of interest.

This statement was extensively reviewed in the following two publications, listed below:

  1. Controlling Conflict of Interest — Proposals from the Institute of Medicine. New Engl J Med. 2009; 360:2160-2163.

Professional Medical Associations and Their Relationships With Industry. A Proposal for Controlling Conflict of Interest. JAMA. 2009;301:1367-1372.

Share this article: