Compliance Reminder: Resolution of Conflicts of Interest

May 29, 2014
Posted by: 
Tamar Hosansky

Resolving Conflicts of Interest

When obtaining disclosures from all those in a position to control the content of a CME activity, make sure that your mechanisms for collecting this information explicitly include the expectation that the individuals are considering the relationships of their spouses or partners as one and the same as their own relationships. You do not need to obtain disclosure directly from the spouses or partners of persons in a position to control the content, but you do need to make sure that those individuals understand that their disclosures need to include the relevant financial relationships of their spouses or partners. As described in the Financial Relationships and Conflicts of Interest Policy, the ACCME considers relationships of the person involved in the CME activity to include financial relationships of a spouse or partner. That means that you need to consider those relationships when you are meeting the requirements for disclosure of relevant financial relationships and identification and resolution of conflicts of interest. For example, if an individual in control of content discloses that their spouse or partner has a relevant financial relationship with an ACCME-defined commercial interest, you must consider the individual as also having that relationship, and implement your mechanism(s) to resolve the conflict of interest*. Failure to do so may lead to one or more noncompliance findings in Criterion 7 (Standards for Commercial Support 1, 2, and 6).

*Note: In July 2016, the ACCME Board modified the interpretation of the Standards for Commercial Support related to relevant financial relationships. In situations where a person in control of CME content discloses that their spouse or partner is an employee of a commercial interest and the content being controlled is related to the products/services of that commercial interest, then that person will now be considered to have a relevant financial relationship. Previously, that person would have been considered a commercial interest employee because of their spouse/partner’s employment. As with any relevant financial relationship, providers are required to implement mechanisms to resolve these conflicts of interest per SCS 2.

The following Ask ACCME Q&A may be helpful to you:

For more information, including links to tools, sample forms, and Q&A, please see Resources for Implementing the Standards for Commercial Support.