Conflict of interest management

Conflict of interest policies

EAS Management of Conflict of Interest

(updated as per January 2019)

The European Atherosclerosis Society’s goal is to provide a framework for concerted scientific and clinical discussion of new developments in basic research, diagnosis and therapy of atherosclerosis, through a programme of educational and publication activities arranged for and by its members.

  • Publication of Guidelines and Consensus Position Papers, and Journals Atherosclerosis and Atherosclerosis Plus
  • Annual Congress, and Advanced Course programmes
  • Online educational content on EAS Academy learning platform

The EAS is committed to transparency and managing actual and perceived conflicts of interest that may arise in the organisation of these programmes, in order to preserve the integrity of the activities in which its membership is engaged.

EAS regulations on handling conflict of interest, transparency and ethical integrity

1) Defining a conflict of interest:

A conflict of interest exists when an individual has material interests that could, or could be perceived to, influence his/her decisions, actions or presentations in an inappropriate or biased manner. These interests include employment, consultancy, equity, research funding, honoraria, patents and royalties, speaking commitments, advisory committee or board of directors membership, expert testimony and financial support from a commercial entity. Subsidy of travel expenses and/or accommodation/hospitality by a commercial entity for/during an EAS activity is also considered a conflict of interest.

Conflicts of commercial interest may involve either an agent or device concerning the subject in question or an agent or device that might be in competition with the subject in question.

2) EAS educational and publishing activities must be without bias:

Persons contributing to the Society’s educational and publication programmes must do so without bias due to any of the material interests mentioned above.

3) Conflicts of interest must be disclosed:

It is the responsibility of the individual contributor to disclose in full all actual and/or potential conflicts of interest so that the audience may then be able to evaluate the relevance of the potential conflict of interest. This applies to: members of the Executive and other committees; participants in panels and taskforces for guidelines and consensus publications; presenters and chairs in Congresses and both live and online courses; and employees of the Society.

4) Transparency and professional integrity are required:

There are varying degrees of conflicting interests. Relationships with commercial partners does not necessarily mean an individual is precluded from a role within EAS, so long as the relationships are declared and considered not to be inappropriate by the Society’s Executive Committee. This applies equally to all aspects of clinical practice and basic science research.

5) No promotion – Society integrity and industry support:

EAS does not promote pharmaceutical or other products related to the area of interest of the Society. Revenues generated by industry sponsorship and exhibition at Congresses or advertisements in the Society’s journal are used solely to support the Society’s independent educational programmes.

6) Industry-supported activities: publications, congresses, live & online courses.
    We follow the guidelines for accreditation (CME):

(a) Commercial support, where present, is acknowledged.
(b) There is no involvement by any representative of the supporting company in the development of the activity.
(c) Where applicable, attendees are invited to report on their perceptions of any possible bias.

7) To whom do these policies apply:

Volunteers serving in governance positions (including EAS Executive Committee, other committee chairs, Guidelines and Consensus panel chairs) must follow the regulations described above.

8) When writing Guidelines & Consensus publications:

The EAS participates in the development of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Academic independence and integrity is especially important in the development of clinical guidelines, and so particularly rigorous standards are required. Special policies intended to prevent bias from conflicts of interest apply to EAS participants in guideline development.
These are given in Appendix 1.

In cases where Consensus position papers are funded by educational grants from pharmaceutical companies paid to the Society, these grants are unrestricted, and the initiatives must have multiple supporters. The grant providers have no influence on the content, and no access to, nor knowledge of the content prior to publication. Consensus panel members sign an agreement of confidentiality preventing disclosure of any information concerning the paper prior to its publication.

In summary: EAS takes seriously its commitment to provide unbiased publication and educational programmes through transparency and proper management of conflicts of interest. In practice this means that:

(a) Potential Executive Committee candidates must declare any conflicts of interest before standing for election; agreement to resolve such conflicts and comply with all relevant aspects of the EAS Conflict of Interest Policy is a prerequisite for inclusion on the election slate.
(b) All EAS committees must be aware of and have discussed the policies and processes for managing conflicts.
(c) Any meeting speaker is provided with a reminder about the COI policy prior to his/her presentation and is asked to disclose potential conflicts at the beginning of the presentation.

9) Educational Programme creation – free from commercial influence

(a) Each individual in a position to determine the content of an educational activity must disclose all relevant financial relationships that involve the receipt of wages, compensation or other remuneration for their services as an employee or consultant with any commercial interest and follow the Society’s policy for managing conflicts.
(b) The terms, conditions and purposes of any commercial support of a CME programme are documented in a written letter of agreement between EAS and the commercial supporter. The agreement states that EAS makes all decisions regarding the educational content of the programme, selection of speakers, and disbursement of commercial support.
(c) Acknowledgment of corporate support is provided on the EAS website, in the printed meeting materials, and on signage on-site.
(d) Product promotion and product-specific advertisement of any type are prohibited in or during CME activities.

10) Administration/Disclosure of Conflicts

(a) Conflict of interest declarations are updated annually and are publicly available on the Society website.
(b) For publications and CME activities, relevant disclosure information is provided to the audience in conjunction with each activity. The disclosure identifies those in receipt of wages, compensation or other remuneration for their services as an employee or consultant, as well as those who report no financial relationships.
(c) For EAS Congress & other CME meetings invited speaker disclosure information is provided on a slide shown before the presentation.
(d) In EAS publications, author disclosures are provided in a prominent location.

We follow the procedures to ensure compliance and address any issues.

(e) At Congress, staff members request a disclosure slide for each presentation made at an EAS congress.
(f) In the case that an EAS volunteer does not comply with the Declaration of Conflict of Interest (DOI) policy or complete their declaration of interest form annually (“failure to disclose”) they will be given written notice by the Society to rectify the matter and if not done in a reasonable time they will be required to step down from their position. Until the disclosure is made, they will not subsequently contribute to any EAS activity, pending EAS Executive Committee decision on appropriate action, determined on a case-by-case basis. Such action may range from a written warning to the speaker about adherence to the EAS society’s policy to prohibition from participation in future EAS events.

11) Questions

Questions and comments regarding the EAS conflict of interest principles and policies can be directed to the administration office

Appendix 1 – COI Policy relating to Clinical Practice Guidelines

  1. Academic independence and integrity is especially important in the development of clinical guidelines, and so particularly rigorous standards are required.
  2. No employee of a pharmaceutical or medical device or technology company can be a member of a Guidelines committee.
  3. Any form of direct company support for the development of a guideline is not permitted.
  4. All members of the Clinical Practice Guidelines committee and all members of individual Guidelines Task Forces must complete a full disclosure of interests. In an individual Task Force of the Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee, these disclosures are shared between Members. Disclosures of interest of Task Force Members are mentioned in the publication of the Guidelines and put on the website.
  5. Any of the following characteristics disqualifies an individual from serving on a Guidelines committee: part-time employment or salary from a related company, significant stock ownership, or holding of a patent which generates significant revenues or receipt of significant royalties for intellectual property related to the topic of the guidelines.
  6. Receipt of consultancy fees or fees for lecturing would not debar an individual from being a member of a committee but must be fully disclosed.
  7. The members of a Guidelines Task Force may have related interests (such as participation in steering committees of clinical trials), but these must all be fully disclosed.
  8. Similar recommendations apply to the members of any expert writing committee or scientific task force, appointed by any constituent body of the EAS. Disclosure of interests is mandatory.
  9. Other individuals and those with interests which disbar them from membership of a Guidelines committee may be invited to give advice because of their academic expertise.

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