Summary

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (“CPSO”) recently approved a draft policy entitled, “Physicians’ Relationship with Industry: Practice, Education and Research”, for consultation.  The draft policy sets out the College’s expectations for physicians when interacting with industry in four key areas of practice. The policy is largely consistent with the guidelines published by the Canadian Medical Association and other provincial regulators, and addresses issues relating to professionalism, conflicts of interest and acting in the best interest of the patient.

The draft policy is open for consultation until May 14, 2014.

Background

The draft policy consolidates two previous policies, MD Relations with Drug Companies and Conflict of Interest: Recruitment of Subjects for Research Studies, and will supersede these policies upon final approval. The draft policy includes many provisions of two previous policies, as well as, new provisions to help physicians’ manage their relationship with industry.

The draft policy is divided into four key sections:

  1. Physicians’ interaction with industry through the practice of medicine;
  2. Participation in industry-supported continuing medical or professional development activities;
  3. Participation on advisory boards or investigator meetings; and
  4. Participation in industry-sponsored research.  

Key provisions

The draft policy includes an expanded definition of “industry”, which refers to the “full range of commercial enterprises associated with health care.” This broad definition encompasses the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries, as well as commercial providers of services related to research, education and clinical practice.

The draft policy prohibits physicians from accepting personal gifts of any value from industry, with a few exceptions for items that have a primary benefit for patients.

In respect of industry-sponsored research, new provisions have been included to address issues related to ethics approval, the registration of clinical trials, and the practice of “ghost-writing”.  Specifically, the draft policy prohibits a physician from publishing an article as an author where the article is written in whole or in part by members of industry. Physicians should only be listed as authors if they have contributed substantively to the content of the publication or where their contribution to the publication is fully disclosed in the authorship or acknowledgement. Furthermore, physicians are required to disclose any relationship with organizations who have funded the research that is the subject of the publication.

The draft policy continues to allow doctors to receive drug samples, accept certain items as gifts (such as patient teaching aids), accept modest meals from industry representatives, and accept remuneration for speaking at educational events or positions on consultation or advisory boards. 

The final policy will be posted on the CPSO website.  

Link to draft policy:

Physicians’ Relationships with Industry: Practice, Education and Research