Health Sciences Update
  June 3, 2009

Fred Sanfilippo
Fred Sanfilippo,

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School of Medicine issues new policy

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  School of Medicine issues new policy on industry relations

The following is a joint announcement from EVPHA Fred Sanfilippo and School of Medicine Dean Thomas J. Lawley:

In pursuit of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center's goal of being the model 21st century health sciences and services center, Emory University School of Medicine has issued an updated, comprehensive policy on industry relations. This policy is designed to prevent conflicts of interest, while at the same time ensuring WHSC's continued leadership in biomedical research, clinical care, the training of new doctors, and continuing education for physicians.

The policy fulfills WHSC's commitment to the highest standards of professionalism, guiding faculty and staff in collaborating effectively with industry to develop innovative new tools for improving health— while avoiding industry influence on our education, research, and patient care missions. Developed by a broad group of WHSC leaders, working in partnership with the University-wide conflict of interest group, the policy adheres to the recommendations of the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Association of American Universities, and the Institute of Medicine.

Please see the press release below to read more about the industry relations policy, and thank you for your continued support and leadership in this crucial arena. Maintaining productive, conflict-of-interest-free relationships with industry is an important component of our ability to continue transforming health and healing … together.

Emory University School of Medicine today issued an updated comprehensive policy on industry relations expanding advice to faculty, staff, students, and trainees on guidelines for preventing conflicts of interest.

Emory's School of Medicine has addressed conflicts of interest and commitment across the full range of activities within the school— biomedical research, clinical care, training of new doctors, and continuing education of physicians.

"We have a social obligation to carry out our missions in clinical care, education, and research with the highest standards of ethics and professionalism," says Lawley. "Principled collaborations between our faculty physicians and scientists and industry can contribute to our missions in advancing public health and benefiting society. Our broad new policy provides additional guidance to our faculty, staff, students, and trainees in removing industry influence from medical research, education, and clinical practice while they work with industry on new ways to improve health. The policy also enhances the school's ability to oversee and manage any conflicts of interest and commitment that might arise."

For more than a century Emory School of Medicine has led in discoveries that advanced understanding of disease prevention and treatment, prepared the next generation of health professionals to save and improve lives in communities worldwide, and improved the quality of care for patients.

Over the past few decades, steps have been taken to help support the expense associated with this discovery at Emory and universities across the nation. In 1980, there was passage of federal legislation designed to provide financial benefit to academic institutions and scientists if their government-sponsored research led to commercial products. In addition, universities have built relationships with industry to help support the expenses for its mission of education, research, and clinical care. With these growing interactions with industry have come increasingly complex conflicts of interest and a growing concern at Emory and nationally about the influence of industry on the integrity of research, education, and clinical care.

Adding to recommendations from the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Association of Universities, just last month, the Institute of Medicine issued a report on managing relationships with industry. The Emory School of Medicine new industry relationships policy, developed simultaneously with the IOM report, reaches similar conclusions and adheres to recommendations by the AAMC, AAU, and IOM. As before, faculty and senior officials must report for prior approval all proposed outside industry activities and interactions. When needed, the reviews are coordinated with other Emory University offices, including offices for conflict of interest in research, health care compliance, purchasing, and gifts and development.

New highlights to the Emory policy, which applies to faculty, staff, students, and trainees:

• Speaking: Faculty, staff, students, and trainees may not receive compensation, gifts, or travel expenses from industry for speaking at industry promotional events and cannot be compensated by industry for attending such events. Industry representatives cannot be ghostwriters on presentations and publications on which School of Medicine faculty, staff, and students appear as authors. New limitations apply to participation in industry-sponsored educational and training events and to educational events hosted by independent, for-profit continuing medical education companies.

• Gifts: Individual faculty, staff, students, and trainees are prohibited from accepting gifts from industry at Emory or away from Emory, regardless of amount, value, or nature. Gifts of funds or equipment from industry to the School of Medicine to support education and research must be received through the school's Development Office and will be managed centrally using pooled accounts that put the donor and the recipient at arm's length. Individuals in the School of Medicine are prohibited from accepting medications and pharmaceutical samples from industry. Companies may donate to a central pharmacy for patients who cannot afford the drugs.

• Industry access: Industry representatives will have access to Emory buildings and personnel only by faculty invitation for necessary interactions. Sales and marketing representatives will be restricted from educational and training events and from patient care areas.

• Education: Continuing medical education activities that occur in Emory buildings or that are directed by Emory faculty will be managed by the school, and new policies on funding by industry are being developed. Faculty will disclose their external financial relationships with industry in all formal lectures to medical students and trainees. Students and trainees may not be assigned to projects that are related to a faculty adviser's conflict of interest.

• Start-up companies: Under current policy, School of Medicine faculty start-up companies must be approved by the department chair and the dean's office and then by University technology transfer and research administration offices. The new policy clarifies that faculty who have a financial interest in the company cannot have a fiduciary role and must have conflict of interest oversight when Emory technology is licensed to the company and when the company's interests are related to the faculty member's work at Emory.

• In all cases, faculty must place their primary duties to Emory as teachers, researchers, and clinicians over their financial interests in outside relationships with industry if unmanageable conflicts arise.

In addition to the School of Medicine policy, Emory has a University-wide central office to oversee administration of conflict of interest in research. The office recently provided updates to Emory researchers regarding new financial disclosure regulations that apply to investigators on new and pending National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants. Emory's NIH Training Program for Financial Conflicts of Interest is required and investigators certify that they have completed this tutorial. Visit the University's COI website for more information.


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