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Academic Medical Departments Rife With Industry Ties

Two-thirds of department chairs report some form of personal relationship with firms

TUESDAY, Oct. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Relationships between academic medical departments and industry are highly prevalent and highlight the need for active disclosure and management policies to minimize bias in the educational and research activities of these departments, according to a study published in JAMA in October.

Eric G. Campbell, Ph.D., of the Institute for Health Policy, Boston, and colleagues surveyed department chairs of 125 accredited allopathic medical schools and the 15 largest independent teaching hospitals in the United States regarding institution-academic industry relationships.

In total, 459 of 688 department chairs responded, yielding a response rate of 67 percent. Two-thirds of department chairs reported personal relationships with industry, including serving as a consultant (27 percent), member of a scientific advisory board (27 percent), paid speaker (14 percent), or member of the board of directors (11 percent). More than than two-thirds of department chairs believed that the industry relationships did not impact their professional work, whereas 72 percent reported that a chair's substantial involvement in more than one industry-related activity would hamper a department's ability to conduct unbiased research.

"Failure to address the existence and influence of industry relationships with academic institutions could endanger the trust of the public in U.S. medical schools and teaching hospitals," the authors concluded.

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