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AAMC 2014: Solving the Discloser's Dilemma: Centralizing the Disclosure of Financial Interests


With the Sunshine Act – even in the months leading up to its passage – the number of financial disclosures required of researchers and physicians exploded. Here’s just a small sample of entities requiring disclosures: HHS, FDA, AHRQ, VA, NSF, foundations, teaching hospitals, journals and CME providers. 

Panelists at 2014 annual meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) agreed it’s important for health leaders to own up to potential conflicts of interest, but say the confusing array of forums and standards for disclosure has led to errors in reporting and placed an undue burden on individuals. 

The New England Journal of Medicine fields 14,000 scientific paper submissions a year, some with multiple authors who each must make disclosures, said Edward Campion, M.D., Senior Depty Editor, The New England Journal of Medicine. Some authors submit conflict-of-interest forms online or via fax. Often they contain errors or have missing information, Campion said.

What’s more, “it’s all on the honor system,” he said, noting there’s no way of enforcing disclosures of maintaining their accuracy. 

The AAMC has heeded the Institute of Medicine’s call for a single, national database of disclosures. Called Convey, the database should go live in early 2015, said Heather Pierce, J.D., M.P.H., Senior Director for Science Policy and Regulatory Counsel at the AAMC. It’s designed, she said, to consolidate disclosures and share the information with journals and other and interested groups in a way that’s meaningful for them. 

Clifford Hudis, M.D., Chief of the Breast Cancer Medicine Service and Attending Physician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City, said Convey is “incredibly useful” and “close to what we’ve been looking for.”

But he fears there will still be a disconnect between the data in Convey and federal data published under the Sunshine Act, creating the set-up for someone to do a “gotcha” on researchers.

By: Kirsten Stewart

Kirsten Stewart is a senior writer for University of Utah Health Sciences