Since 1994, ASCO has had a Conflict of Interest policy in place to identify, prevent, and manage conflicts of interest in all of its programs. The policy was updated by the ASCO Board of Directors in July 1996, November 2002, and March 2005. The full policy can be found at www.asco.org/conflictofinterest.
ASCO’s Conflict of Interest policy applies to all ASCO Members including members of the Board, officers, committees, task forces and guideline panels; journal editors; presenters and faculty at ASCO meetings; authors published in ASCO publications; and ASCO senior staff.
It requires disclosure of financial interests and other relationships with commercial interests that may cause real or perceived conflicts of interest, including:
- Employment or leadership positions
- Advisory roles
- Stock ownership
- Research funding
- Expert testimony
Based on the disclosure, ASCO anticipates and manages conflicts using a variety of strategies, including:
- Peer review
- Publication of disclosure information
- Declining of presentations or publications
- Replacement of speakers
- Review of slides in advance of presentation
- Auditing of sessions
- Recusal or dismissal from discussion or voting
POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
Principal investigators cannot present research in ASCO meetings or publish research in ASCO journals if they receive or hold any of the following:
- Stock or equity in a trial sponsor, except in a diversified fund not controlled by the covered individual
- Royalties, or licensing fees from, or patents in the product or treatment under investigation
- Travel or trips paid by the trial sponsor to attend educational or scientific meetings except under narrow circumstances
- Honoraria or gifts from the trial sponsor, not including payments for trial-related labor
- Research-related payments from the trial sponsor substantially exceeding actual research costs
- A position as an officer, board member, or employee of the trial sponsor, although uncompensated services on the sponsor’s scientific advisory board is permitted.
ASCO’s Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) and Journal of Oncology Practice (JOP) also have policies for disclosure and publication of relevant relationships and take appropriate steps to manage potential conflicts by the Editors and reviewers of articles and abstracts. Both journals also obtain and publish disclosure of authors’ relationships that are relevant to the subject matter of their articles, and the JCO further requires specification of each author’s individual contributions to an article.
Exceptions Process and Criteria
ASCO’s exceptions process allows principal investigators to request an exception to the restrictions described above. These requests are decided on a case by case basis by ASCO’s Ethics Committee under procedures approved by the Committee. Exceptions are granted in rare cases (for example, less than one percent of Annual Meeting abstracts receive an exception).
If an exception is granted, ASCO follows a conflicts management system accredited by the Accreditation Council on Continuing Medical Education. Conflict management strategies may include:
- Peer review
- Session audit
- Advance slide review
- Biostatistical review
- Submission of underlying protocol
- Review of presentation materials
- Auditing of presentations or posters
- Publishing a notation that an exception to the policy has been granted
- Providing an independent discussant for the session
ASCO’s leadership – the President, Board members, Committee members, JCO and JOP Editors, Chief Executive Officer, Vice President, and Senior Staff Directors – are required to disclose relationships with companies having a commercial interest in the science or practice of oncology so that ASCO can proactively manage potential conflicts of interest.
In addition, the ASCO President, President-Elect, Immediate Past President, CEO and Editors-in-Chief of JCO and JOP are prohibited from accepting honoraria or other compensation from a for-profit company for consulting and advisory work in the oncology field for the three-year period in which they hold one of those titles. Furthermore, ASCO and The ASCO Cancer Foundation Board members, principal officers, and members of committees with board delegated power are required to disclose additional outside financial and professional interests that are not related to the field of oncology.
ASCO Guideline Panels
Clinical practice guidelines are an important tool for the care and treatment of patients. Minimizing conflicts of interest in guideline development and ensuring the participation of experts in the field are critical to ensuring public and physician confidence in their authority. ASCO’s guidelines are subject to the following panel selection and review processes to minimize and manage conflicts:
Guideline Panel Selection
- Commercial entities with products that are reasonably likely to be affected by care delivered in accordance with guideline recommendations are identified.
- Prospective panel members are identified and asked to submit their disclosures to determine if they have any relationships with any of the “affected” companies or any other relevant relationships before they can be considered for the panel.
A majority (at least 51%) of panel members must have no relationships with affected companies.
- Panel members who do not have relationships with affected companies are required to remain free of these relationships from the start of panel deliberations through publication of the guideline.
- Panel chairs are additionally required to have no relationship with an affected company for a period of one year prior to the commencement of panel deliberations through one year after the guideline is published. If one co-chair is found to have special expertise needed to produce a high quality guideline, that chair may be chosen if he or she works on research funded by an affected company (but not if he or she has other relationships), as long as a second co-chair is appointed who has disclosed no relationship with affected companies.
Guideline Review and Approval
- Guideline panel recommendations must be approved by a super-majority, 75%, of the guideline panel members present.
- Guidelines are peer reviewed by members of ASCO’s Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee, independent external reviewers, Journal of Clinical Oncology reviewers, and select members of the ASCO Board of Directors before they are adopted by the full Board. In each case, only committee and Board members who have disclosed no relationships with an affected company are permitted to review and/or vote on guideline approval. Once a guideline is formally adopted by the Board it is submitted to the JCO for consideration for publication at the discretion of the JCO Editor in Chief.