Relations between professional medical associations and healthcare industry, concerning scientific communication and continuing medical education: a policy statement from the European Society of Cardiology
Portuguese Journal of Cardiology vol:31 issue:7-8 pages:529-38
Physicians have an ethical duty to keep up-to-date with current knowledge. Professional medical associations such as the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) support these obligations. In Europe, the costs of continuing medical education (CME) are insufficiently supported from governments and employers; however, medical associations have been criticized for accepting alternative financial support from industry. Medical education and training in research include learning how to assess the quality and reliability of any information. There is some risk of bias in any form of scientific communication including intellectual, professional, and financial and it is essential that in particular, the latter must be acknowledged by full disclosure. It is essential that there is strong collaboration between basic and clinical researchers from academic institutions on the one hand, with engineers and scientists from the research divisions of device and pharmaceutical companies on the other. This is vital so that new diagnostic methods and treatments are developed. Promotion of advances by industry may accelerate their implementation into clinical practice. Universities now frequently exhort their academic staff to protect their intellectual property or commercialize their research. Thus, it is not commercial activity or links per se that have become the target for criticism but the perceived influence of commercial enterprises on clinical decision-making or on messages conveyed by professional medical organizations. This document offers the perspective of the ESC on the current debate, and it recommends how to minimize bias in scientific communications and CME and how to ensure proper ethical standards and transparency in relations between the medical profession and industry.