The CMSS Code for Interaction with Companies, released April 20 by the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, is designed to keep medical societies’ interactions with pharmaceutical and medical device companies ethical and transparent. The code, which is voluntary, was formally adopted by 13 of CMSS’s 32 medical society members at the time of its release; more plan to adopt it in the near future, while others already plan to meet or exceed the code’s principles, according to a statement from the CMSS. The full code, and the list of original signers who have adopted it thus far, are available on the CMSS Web site.
“The private sector plays a central role in developing new treatments and medical advances, and medical societies collaborate with industry in many ways that benefit medical practice. We developed this code to ensure that those relationships are appropriate, and to ensure public confidence in our objectivity and commitment to high-quality care,” said Norman Kahn, MD, executive vice president and CEO, CMSS.
“Physicians and patients count on medical societies to be authoritative, independent voices in science and medicine,” said Allen Lichter, MD, CEO of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and chairman of the CMSS Task Force on Professionalism and Conflict of Interest, which developed the code. “By adopting this code, societies demonstrate their commitment to the highest level of ethical standards in their activities and to providing the best possible care for patients and populations.” ASCO is among the societies that have already adopted the code.
The CMSS code, which was developed by a 30-member task force of member society leaders, includes seven core principles and specific ways to implement the principles. It requires the societies to develop and publicly post policies and procedures to disclose and manage conflicts of interest among those who participate in society activities, and to disclose donations and support received from pharma and medical device companies, as well as any financial or uncompensated relationships board members have with industry. It also says they must develop ways in which the society will ensure that its educational programs, advocacy positions, and research grants are developed independent of industry supporters; and prohibits society presidents, CEOs, and editors-in-chief of society journals from having direct financial relationships with relevant for-profit companies in the healthcare sector.
The code generally mirrors the Accreditation Council for CME’s Standards for Commercial Support for its CME-related guidance—including a requirement that societies follow the standards. It also says that societies must retain control over how educational grants are used, prohibit pharma from controlling topics or the choice of presenters, and require that speakers provide a fair and balanced perspective on therapeutic options.