Council of Medical Specialty Societies Issues Voluntary Code

AAFP Board Affirms, Adopts Code to Regulate Business Interactions

April 21, 2010 03:15 pm News Staff

The AAFP Board of Directors has adopted as official Academy policy a new code of standards for working with for-profit companies in the health care sector. The voluntary CMSS Code for Interactions with Companies(, which was developed by the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, or CMSS(, calls for independent and transparent interactions between medical specialty organizations and industry.

The Academy will work toward adherence to the code within six months of CMSS' April 17 adoption date.

AAFP representatives to the council -- at the behest of the Academy's Board of Directors -- voted to affirm CMSS' yearlong effort, making the Academy one of 14 CMSS member organizations to initially sign on to the code.

The Chicago-based CMSS represents 32 medical specialty societies and provides a forum for member discussion on issues of national interest and mutual concern.

In an April 21 press release(, CMSS EVP and CEO Norman Kahn, M.D., said the private sector plays a role in developing new treatments and medical advances. "Medical societies collaborate with industry in many ways that benefit medical practice," said Kahn. "We developed this code to ensure that those relationships are appropriate and to ensure public confidence in our objectivity and commitment to high-quality care."

The code incorporates core principles, including the assertion that any collaboration with a for-profit company in the health care sector should advance medical care for the benefit of patients. It also offers detailed guidance on implementation. Key areas covered include

  • conflicts of interest,
  • financial disclosure and
  • independent program development.

The document also outlines principles of independent leadership that would prohibit key leaders in a medical specialty society, such as the president or CEO or the editor-in-chief of a society journal, from having direct financial relationships with "relevant" for-profit companies in the health care sector.

Daniel Ostergaard, M.D., the AAFP's vice president for professional activities and a representative to CMSS, called the AAFP's decision to embrace the code another example of Academy's commitment to voluntary self-regulation of its relationships with private industry.

"The Academy has a long history of adherence to the highest ethical standards," said Ostergaard. He praised the high level of detail provided in the document, saying it would provide a road map for the Academy as it continues to pursue honest and open collaborations with private-sector companies.