Conflict of interest comprehensively mitigated in education programmes for healthcare professionals
Companies' conflict of interest (COI) mitigation strategies assessed to ensure risks are proactively avoided at all times.
- Incentives, branding and content development all monitored as part of strategies
- Independent reviews seen as most robust way to guard against COI
Pharmaceutical companies know how their medicines can be used, responsibly and appropriately, to treat different infections.
Many pharma companies contribute to educational activities for healthcare professionals (HCPs) on how best to manage the risk of resistance while using their products; but if they do so, they must proactively avoid the risks of conflicts of interest (COI) which are inherent in this area.
Looking at a maximum of five programmes per company, the Benchmark assesses whether and how companies engage in educational activities aimed at HCPs, and whether they mitigate COI as part of those programmes.
In 2020, the Benchmark reported that the majority of programmes evaluated had comprehensive measures in place to mitigate the risk of COI in their educational programmes targeting HCPs.
In 2021, there is further progress, as all programmes have at least some COI mitigation in place and there is an increase in the number of programmes with comprehensive COI mitigation.
The maximum of five programmes per company which are included in this analysis demonstrate a high exemplary standard of COI mitigation; companies must further ensure that this standard applies to all of their programmes.
As in 2020, programmes are most likely to be developed in-house and thus supported by one or more of the three COI mitigation strategies defined by the Benchmark.
The most common strategy is a pledge not to give any financial and material incentives to participants in the programme.
How companies can mitigate conflict of interest in educational programmes for healthcare professionals
No incentives to participants: A company pledges that it will not provide financial and material incentives to those who participate in educational programmes.
Independence of content development: The exclusion of a company’s marketing department in content development and speaker selection.
No branded materials: The content of an educational programme excludes branded products or materials.
Unrestricted grant: Companies can provide unrestricted grants to independent third parties. These can be used for AMR-related educational activities, without any involvement of the company and without any obligation to include marketing aspects in the programme.
Independent review: An independent review is the most robust way for companies to show they mitigate COI within programmes. An independent body such as the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) can evaluate how COI is mitigated if the provider is a company, and can accredit educational programmes.