What is the difference between significant financial relationships and relevant financial relationships?

Published Date: 
August 22, 2013
Last Revised: 
August 22, 2013

First it is important to understand how the ACCME defines a financial relationship. Financial relationships are those relationships in which the individual benefits by receiving a salary, royalty, intellectual property rights, consulting fee, honoraria, ownership interest (e.g., stocks, stock options or other ownership interest, excluding diversified mutual funds), or other financial benefit. Financial benefits are usually associated with roles such as independent contractor (including contracted research), consulting, promotional speaking and teaching, membership on advisory committees or review panels, board membership, and other activities for which remuneration is received or expected. ACCME considers relationships of the person involved in the CME activity to also include financial relationships of a spouse or partner.

Relevant financial relationships are financial relationships in any amount, which occurred in the twelve-month period preceding the time that the individual was asked to assume a role controlling content of the CME activity, and which relate to the content of the educational activity, causing a conflict of interest. The ACCME considers financial relationships to create conflicts of interest in CME when individuals have both a financial relationship with a commercial interest and the opportunity to affect the content of CME about the products or services of that commercial interest. The potential for maintaining or increasing the value of the financial relationship with the commercial interest creates an incentive to influence the content of the CME—an incentive to insert commercial bias.  The ACCME has not set a minimum dollar amount for relationships to be considered relevant and does not use the term significant to describe financial relationships. Inherent in any amount is the incentive to maintain or increase the value of the relationship.

To be compliant with Criterion 7 (Standards for Commercial Support 2 and 6), accredited providers should be obtaining disclosure of relevant financial relationships from all persons in control of content.  If providers are asking those individuals in control of content to disclose significant financial relationships or setting a minimum dollar amount for disclosures, they will not be compliant with SCS 2 and SCS 6.

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