New Policy Ensures Ethical Dealings with Industry

April 11, 2017 at 10:16 am


Trust is a fundamental value for those who work, research and study at the Max Rady College of Medicine.

Our stakeholders, including patients and students, trust us to make decisions that put their interests first. If our decisions are swayed by corporate influence, or even if it just appears that way, trust is damaged. The university’s reputation may also be compromised.

That’s why it is essential for the College to have a clear and rigorous policy on conflict of interest. Our new Policy on Interactions with Health-Related Industries, updated from the 2011 version, came into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. If you work for, have an academic appointment in, or are a student or trainee in the Max Rady College of Medicine, it’s your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the policy.

The university views interactions with health-related industries as important and beneficial. Our goal is to provide transparent guidelines for dealings with pharmaceutical, medical device, health-care supply and all other for-profit, health-related companies. Relationships with Industry must be disclosed and managed openly. This safeguards against the impression of undue influence.

Physicians are now required, for example, to pay for their own meals at non-accredited industry-supported continuing education events. This avoids the sense of obligation that has been shown to occur and affect prescribing behaviour when physicians receive gifts.

At a well-attended recent forum on the new policy, Dr. Jeff Sisler, a Vice Dean in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences and chair of the Industry Relations Policy Working Group, summarized the guidelines. Anne Babineau, the Director, Prairie Region, of Innovative Medicines Canada (formerly Rx&D), gave a presentation affirming that Canada’s pharmaceutical industries are also committed to upholding transparency and ethical interactions.

You may recall that in 2013, a York University study evaluated the conflict-of-interest policies of Canada’s 17 medical schools. Many were weak and 12 schools earned a failing grade. We can be proud that our industry-relations policy was ranked second-strongest overall. Today, with our newly updated policy, we are once again trailblazing. We can take pride in setting a high ethical standard that will influence national discussions on this topic.

Questions and comments are welcome and can be emailed to, or talk to your department head.

Please be sure to review the full policy (that starts with a summary) and view the three-minute video. Here are some highlights of the policy:

  • The following are prohibited:

Receipt of all gifts, large and small, including gifts of food and drink

Industry support for regularly scheduled series (rounds, journal clubs) and for hospitality components of resident or student retreats

Participation in learning programs/CPD events that receive industry support if they are held in restaurants, lounges or private clubs

  • A registration fee of at least $25 per credit hour must be paid by practising physicians for attendance at accredited CPD events that receive industry support.
  • Registrants must pay for the full cost of food and drink provided at unaccredited learning programs/CPD events supported by industry.
  • Consulting and speaking relationships with industry require contracts that are specific regarding deliverables, have a defined term and are approved by the department head.
  • Student/trainee interactions with industry must be mentored and monitored by a faculty member.
  • Relationships with industry must be disclosed by faculty to learners in undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD settings.
  • Written agreements are required for all financial and in-kind support received from industry and must be approved by the department head. These funds must be held separately from other sources of funding.
  • Faculty disclosures of financial and other relationships with health-related industries must be made at the time of hiring, and thereafter as such relationships arise.