We congratulate the APA Board of Trustees on its decision to phase out
industry-supported symposia (ISS) and sponsored meals at APA meetings. In
taking these actions, the Board has responded to the concerns of an increasing
number of members, who recognize that the real and perceived conflicts of
interest in our profession's relationship with the pharmaceutical industry
have alienated the public and adversely affected the practice of
Although these changes have taken place in the context of increased public
and governmental scrutiny of these relationships, APA has demonstrated that
the medical profession can at times police itself successfully. We hope that
these decisions will be implemented without delay.
In this context, we also suggest that the draft guidelines for interactions
between individual psychiatrists and psychiatry-related industries, to be
discussed by the Assembly in May, be expanded to include guidelines for
interactions between APA itself and industry. We have made a beginning in
excluding ISS, but have yet to consider other such relationships, including
industry influence on decisions made by DSM and practice-guidelines
committees, other sources of industry funding of the organization, and gifts
to psychiatrists at the annual meeting. The article "Professional
Medical Associations and Their Relationships With Industry" in the April
1 Journal of the American Medical Association contained 10 specific
recommendations for curbing commercial influence on professional medical
societies [see Medical Leaders
Urge Limits on Accepting Industry Funding],
and we believe these should be closely reviewed by APA.
In taking these steps, APA will continue to demonstrate its leadership
among medical specialty organizations in recognizing and eliminating sources
of conflict of interest.
AMY BRODKEY, M.D.
DAVID NESS, M.D.
FREDERICK SIERLES, M.D.
G. SCOTT WATERMAN, M.D.
The writers are members of Psychiatrists for an Independent
The process ending in the decision to discontinue industry-supported
symposia and meals at APA meetings was the result of member concerns and
preceded government and media scrutiny. In 2006 APA imposed on potential
participants in the DSM-V process an unprecedented level of
disclosure and strict limitations on industry involvement. These standards
will be imposed on the steering committee on practice guidelines. The highly
favorable member and media responses to these decisions demonstrate that our
frank, inclusive, and thoughtful approach to industry relations has made the
APA a leader among medical societies; APA Medical Director James Scully, M.D.,
is one of the authors of the recommendations published in JAMA.▪