Conflict of Interest Statement

Media Contact:
Shauna Schuda, PCI
312-558-1770
 
AMERICAN RHINOLOGIC SOCIETY CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY ALLOWS TRANSPARENT INTERACTION WITH MEDICAL COMPANIES
Policy Aims to Promote Innovation, Integrity

WARWICK, N.Y. (March 15, 2011) – To encourage innovation and advances in patient care while ensuring integrity, the American Rhinologic Society (ARS) has adopted a conflict of interest policy that permits transparent interactions between medical companies and ARS and 
its leadership.
 
The ARS has declined to adopt the Council of Medical Specialty Society’s Code for Interaction  with Companies because company funding and relationships are not allowed under the code. ARS leaders believe such an extreme policy would be harmful to patients.
 
“There have been some well-publicized incidents of doctors and companies who have abused the system, which has understandably prompted outrage,” said Brent Senior, M.D., president of the ARS and chief of Rhinology, Allergy and Sinus Surgery at the University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill. “But we believe it’s a mistake to forbid any interaction with companies. Those relationships are crucial to innovation and advancements in patient care, and if those lines of communication and opportunities for funding are shut down, patients will suffer.” 
 
ARS leaders note that medical innovations require money and resources and, conversely, that companies must rely on doctors who work with patients on a daily basis to determine what issues need solving as well as products, services and drugs that should be developed. Government and not-for-profit research money is limited and many studies are funded by companies. For example, an HIV/AIDS diagnosis is no longer the death sentence it once was, thanks to research performed by physicians who treat patients with the disease and funded by pharmaceutical companies developing drugs that help people manage the disease.  Nearly any new surgical procedure or device is by necessity developed through a partnership with physicians and companies, Dr. Senior notes. Further, medical specialty societies are headed by thought leaders, who are best able to interact with industry in a positive way to help patients, he said.
 
The ARS policy seeks to take a rational approach to relationships with companies. The policy does not set dollar amounts or limit interaction between companies and ARS leaders, or members of its organizational committees, task forces and panels, but it does insist on 100 percent transparency and lists those relationships and specifics on its website. The policy also creates ground rules for these relationships to prevent company influence. For instance, a doctor must disclose a conflict of interest and may sit on a panel and participate in the debate, but not in the drafting of policy or voting.

The policy of transparency respects the intelligence of patients and doctors by allowing them to make their own decisions based on the nature of the relationship, Dr. Senior said. “If a patient knows that Dr. Jones received $250,000 from a company, he might understandably have concerns about the doctor and choose to see someone else,” Dr. Senior said. “But if he 
knows the doctor was treated to a $45 dinner while he learned about a new innovation, it’s less likely to be a major concern.”
 
The American Rhinologic Society is the world's largest physician organization whose mission focuses upon the medical and surgical treatment of patients with diseases of the nose and paranasal sinuses. Patient care, research and education are integral to the ARS mission. 
 
For more information, or to read the ARS “Guidance for Conflict of Interest when Interacting with Industry,” visit http://www.american-rhinologic.org. 

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PDF ARS Conflict of Interest Press Release
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