JAMA Letter: Disclose and Manage Conflicts of Interest at Cancer Centers

Last month the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a letter to the editor authored by AACI President Roy A. Jensen, MD and AACI Conflict of Interest (COI) Task Force Co-chairs Karen E. Knudsen, MBA, PhD, and Leonidas C. Platanias, MD, PhD, in response to a JAMA article published in August regarding industry payments to physician directors of NCI-Designated Cancer Centers.

In the letter, published in JAMA Internal Medicine,  Drs. Jensen, Knudsen, and Platanias noted that the authors of the August Research Letter were correct to raise concerns about the influence on industry funding on clinical research. "However," they wrote, "their article implies that all such relationships are inherently problematic, despite the lack of details about the services provided. It is also not apparent whether any cancer center directors were contacted by the authors regarding the circumstances of their relationships to the pharmaceutical industry."

After reviewing COI policies from more than a third of AACI’s member cancer centers, the AACI COI Task Force, which formed in late 2018, concluded that "disclose and manage" should be a guiding principle and that transparency—including financial relationship disclosure—is essential to building and maintaining positive physician-patient relationships.

Citing the recommendations established by AACI's COI Task Force, Drs. Jensen, Knudsen, and Platanias emphasized that these relationships must be carefully defined, while recognizing that such public-private partnerships are an essential piece of continued progress against cancer.

In their reply, the authors of the original article, David Carr, MD, and H. Gilbert Welch, MD, MPH, stated that they could support AACI's "disclose and manage" position "as long as those charged with managing conflicts are not conflicted themselves." 
Dr. Jensen is director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center; Dr. Knudsen is enterprise director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health; and Dr. Platanias is director of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. 

Read the Letter to the Editor