Associations should cut ties with pharma, says JAMA

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The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) is calling for professional medical associations to sever all ties with the drug industry—with exception to journal advertising and exhibit hall fees, of course.
 
In an article titled Professional Medical Associations and Their Relationship With Industry, whose authors include JAMA editor-in-chief Catherine DeAngelis and Cleveland Clinic's Steven Nissen, the journal advises that medical societies work toward a goal of eliminating all other drug and device industry support. Allowing that industry support is “pervasive” and that such a break could not happen overnight, the authors advise associations to: immediately limit total support, apart from journal ads and exhibit hall fees, to 25% of their operating budgets; ensure that all funds from industry are truly unrestricted and are pooled and administered through a central repository; and see that no single industry source is responsible for the majority of total industry funding.

Associations should establish CME committees to distribute unrestricted educational grants for CME courses, the authors said, with exclusive authority to select program topics and speakers, or turn to independent foundations or the National Institutes of Health to fund specific courses or endow lectureships, they write, adding that “it may be necessary to pass more of the CME costs to individuals, rather than depend on contributions from interested parties.”

Gifts, including food, and company logos should be banned from association meetings, the journal said, and attendees should not have to pass exhibit hall booths purchased by companies to get to scientific sessions. Associations should not sell members' addresses to companies for the purpose of marketing satellite symposia or list symposia in the conference agenda.

The authors said all product endorsements and funding for the development of practice guidelines or outcome measures should be nixed, as should funding for journal supplements, and that research funds and industry funds for fellowships should be disbursed by central committees, with no involvement by industry in decisions about what and whom they go to.

Among the authors is Dr. James Scully, medical director of the American Psychiatric Association, which last week announced it was banning industry-funded symposia and meals at its annual meetings.
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