ASLME to Convene National Conference on Conflicts of Interest in the Practice of Medicine & Medical Research
Recently, the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics
announced that it will be convening a national conference on the issue
of Conflicts of Interest in the Practice of Medicine and Medical
Research. The Conference will be co-chaired by David Orentlicher, M.D.,
J.D., of Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis and Aaron S.
Kesselheim, M.D., J.D., M.P.H. of Harvard Medical School. If you are
interested in the conference, and would like to participate, or if you
simply would like more information, please contact ASLME Executive
Director Ted Hutchinson at email@example.com.
The Conference will be held at the University of Pittsburgh on October
27-28, 2011, and the event is generously funded by a grant from the
Highmark Foundation, with additional funding contributed by the Jewish
Healthcare Foundation and by The University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
The Scope of the Issue
In 2009, the Institute of Medicine produced a lengthy report that
considered the problem of Conflicts of Interest in Medical Research,
Education, and Practice. Among the conclusions of the report were that:
Financial conflicts of interest pose many challenges to health care
professionals. They raise concerns about the objectivity and
trustworthiness of research conduct and publications, the prudent
management of scientific investigations and other activities in the
public interest, and the commitment of health care professionals to the
best interests of patients. In recent years the media has highlighted
failures of individuals and institutions to disclose and appropriately
manage financial ties with industry (including pharmaceutical, medical
device, medical supply, and insurance companies). These failures
contribute to questions about whether industry has undue influence in
research and other activities.
As medical research, professional education, health care, and
institutional management have become vastly more complex and expensive,
the task of managing conflicts of interest has become more challenging.
Industry is now the leading funder of medical research, and much
research is conducted in nonacademic settings. Industry also is involved
in funding the development of evidence reviews and practice guidelines
that are intended to help translate research findings into practice.
Such guidelines may shape clinical choices and may even be used to
evaluate professional or institutional performance.
The issue of conflicts of interest is just as fundamental at the level
of institutions as it is in the wider medical field. Problems such as
conflicts between doctors, hospitals (and other health care
institutions), and health sciences schools (medicine, nursing, pharmacy,
and public health), as well as other academic institutions engaged in
life sciences research, can arise in relation to pharmaceutical
companies, device manufacturers, and insurance companies. All of these
potential conflicts raise questions as to how exactly an academic
institution is to best fulfill its mission while navigating these
complex and difficult pathways.
The Institute of Medicine report on conflicts was a bold step in the
right direction of understanding the problem and exploring conclusions.
But in the fast-paced and ever-changing world of medicine, law, and
ethics, a neutral conference of experts is an ideal forum to discuss,
update, debate, and implement new findings and conclusions about
conflicts of interest. This conference is the necessary next step in
assuring that conflicts of interest remained in the spotlight as a
critical issue to those concerned with education institutions and
ASLME’s Conflict of Interest Conference
Our national conference will feature an array of recognized national
experts who will discuss, debate, and propose best practices and
approaches to the problem of Conflicts of Interest. The findings of the
conference will also be published in a special issue of the Journal of
Law, Medicine & Ethics, where those from a wide variety of fields
and backgrounds will be able to access these important new findings.
We will have more information about this exciting and important
conference coming soon, and will have updates in every issue of the
ASLME Insider. We hope to see you all in Pittsburgh in October 2011.