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Letters to the Editor
Pharma Decisions Praised
Psychiatric News
Volume 44 Number 9 page 24-24

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 psychiatry.

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.
 Philadelphia, Pa.


DAVID NESS, M.D.
 Pittsburgh, Pa.


FREDERICK SIERLES, M.D.
 Chicago, Ill.


G. SCOTT WATERMAN, M.D.
 Burlington, Vt.

The writers are members of Psychiatrists for an Independent APA.

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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.

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