Association News
Guidelines to Define APA’s Relationship With Industry
Psychiatric News
Volume 36 Number 1 page 9-9

The Board of Trustees has approved the formation of an ad hoc committee charged with developing guidelines for APA’s interactions with the pharmaceutical industry.

The Board made that decision at last month’s meeting in Washington, D.C. The committee will be made up of APA members and staff from APA and the American Psychiatric Foundation (APF) and will report back to the Board in March.

Pharmaceutical companies provide funding for several APA activities ranging from the annual meeting to fellowships, and they pay for advertising in its publications.

Although APA receives most of its revenue from other sources, including dues, investments, and publication sales, some members have perceived pharmaceutical funding as influencing APA activities and believe that APA relies too heavily on pharmaceutical funding. In addition, some members believe that the pharmaceutical companies should cut funding for social events while increasing funding for APA’s advocacy, education, and research activities.

"Our goal is to ensure a positive and appropriate relationship between APA and the pharmaceutical industry," said Steven Rubloff, executive director of the American Psychiatric Foundation, which serves as APA’s primary interface with industry. "Establishing the ad hoc committee to develop governing principles is an important step for both APA and industry."

Rubloff pointed out that APA is not the only party that wants the guidelines: the pharmaceutical industry welcomes them as well. "Industry is concerned about how they are perceived by APA members. They share the belief that the development of these guidelines is a timely idea," he said.

The creation of the ad hoc committee represents a continuation of APA’s efforts to refocus its relationship with the pharmaceutical industry to encourage more funding of advocacy, education, and research, particularly fellowships. For example, while advertising and annual meeting support has remained constant since 1998, industry support for APA fellowships and education/research has nearly doubled since 1997, according to Rubloff.

APA Medical Director Steven Mirin, M.D., pointed out at the Board meeting that 129 APA fellowships were funded externally, including a number supported by the pharmaceutical industry in 2000. Of these, 43 are research related, 31 focus on minority issues or went to minority psychiatrists, and 55 focus on public policy and psychiatry.

In addition to the guidelines project, Mirin, along with APA President Daniel Borenstein, M.D., noted that APA will continue to hold meetings with the pharmaceutical industry with the goal of fostering a better understanding of the needs and goals of each. The Board endorsed that idea. ▪

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