APA phases out industry-supported events

The American Psychiatric Association's board of trustees has voted to phase out industry-supported symposia and industry-supplied meals at its annual meetings. The group, which says that it's following the growing transparency trend, says that Pharma's involvement in its activities has "invited a concern" that doctors may be biased in favor of the sponsoring company's treatments. "Although we took great care to avoid biased reporting at all our symposia, we came to the conclusion that the only way to totally eliminate the risk is to have the symposia supported by the APA alone," said Nada L. Stotland, M.D., M.P.H., president of the APA, in a statement. He added, "what was acceptable five years ago isn't necessarily acceptable today."

Pharma companies will pay up to $50,000 to physicians who agree to speak about psychological diseases and possible treatments. According to the Wall Street Journal, "there could be between 30 and 40 sessions during any one conference." The proposed changes will take two to three years to implement as the APA figures out how to fund these sessions without industry support, though it will begin scaling back industry visibility at this year's conference. Stotland says members' reactions to the new guidelines have been largely positive.

Psychiatrists and pharma industry have worked together on drug development and education for some 20 years now, a fact that has caused a great deal of concern about inappropriate industry influence on psychiatrists. Scandals--such as the one involving Emory professor Charles Nemeroff's failure to disclose pharma payments--have only increased critics suspicions about pharma industry ties. Critics say docs need to disclose and cut down on these ties, while others say partnerships with drugmakers benefit patients.

- see the association release
- read the report from the WSJ