Doctors sign on to tough conflicts-of-interest rules

The institutional war on conflicts of interest continues. The Council of Medical Specialty Societies has come out with a new code of conduct that will lock industry out of developing medical guidelines and force society leaders--and editors of associated journals--to cut financial ties with drugmakers.

Some 13 societies have signed on to the code so far, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Cardiology. CMSS leaders say that the new rules are designed to make sure that societies operate independently, that their relationships with industry are transparent, and that the groups focus on patients and populations rather than finance.

"Physicians and patients count on medical societies to be authoritative, independent voices in science and medicine," says Dr. Allen Lichter, CEO of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and chair of the CMSS task force that developed the code. But of course, the societies aren't independent; virtually all of them get substantial funding from industry. So this new code requires disclosure, and some arm's length moves for leadership.

That's the gist of the code; for the nitty-gritty, check out the CMSS website.

- check out the press release from CMSS
- see the list of organizations that have signed on
- get the full CMSS code
- read the story from the Wall Street Journal Health Blog