Conflict policies raise data challenges

Developing policies on conflicts regarding financial interests held by US medical colleges, teaching hospitals and research institutions has proven a much thornier task than targeting conflicts among individual faculty members. Institutions "are struggling with determining how best to deal with these kinds of institutional conflicts," David Korn, point man on conflicts of interest at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), told __The Scientist__. "The uptake of those policies has

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Feb 28, 2008
Developing policies on conflicts regarding financial interests held by US medical colleges, teaching hospitals and research institutions has proven a much thornier task than targeting conflicts among individual faculty members. Institutions "are struggling with determining how best to deal with these kinds of institutional conflicts," David Korn, point man on conflicts of interest at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), told __The Scientist__. "The uptake of those policies has proved much more difficult." More than half of US medical schools recently linkurl:surveyed;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54300/ had robust policies to manage potential conflicts among individual faculty members, while only about a third had adopted such policies for institutional conflicts. Why the disparity? According to Korn, who is the AAMC's chief scientific officer, the difference lies in the reporting sources for conflicts at each level. While institutions have mandated individual researchers or physicians to report potential conflicts for years, he said, the reporting and...
much thornier task than targeting conflicts among individual faculty members. Institutions "are struggling with determining how best to deal with these kinds of institutional conflicts," David Korn, point man on conflicts of interest at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), told __The Scientist__. "The uptake of those policies has proved much more difficult." More than half of US medical schools recently linkurl:surveyed;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54300/ had robust policies to manage potential conflicts among individual faculty members, while only about a third had adopted such policies for institutional conflicts. Why the disparity? According to Korn, who is the AAMC's chief scientific officer, the difference lies in the reporting sources for conflicts at each level. While institutions have mandated individual researchers or physicians to report potential conflicts for years, he said, the reporting and management of institution-level conflicts is "a whole new ballgame." Compiling and maintaining records of interactions between institutions and industry is an enormous task, Korn said. "One of the biggest hurdles has been to develop an electronic or web-based database that captures all of these interactions. It's one of the features that [institutions] absolutely need," to effectively manage institutional conflict of interest, said Korn. Yesterday's linkurl:report,;https://services.aamc.org/Publications/showfile.cfm?file=version107.pdf&prd_id=220&prv_id=268&pdf_id=107 released by the AAMC and the Association of American Universities (AAU) is a "how-to-do-it manual" for institutions to linkurl:reform their conflict policies;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54392/ inside of two years, Korn said. He remains optimistic that US medical schools and research institutions will use it. "I think we and the AAU do believe that this two-year timeframe is realistic and that it can be accomplished," Korn said. "Yes, it's doable. It's just tougher."

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