Physician bios at Cleveland Clinic include financial ties to industry

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At the end of each physician and researcher bio on The Cleveland Clinic web site is a list of any potential conflicting industry relationships—a novel disclosure policy recently begun by the medical institution.

The move by The Cleveland Clinic is the latest in a string of high-profile institutions, companies and government agencies that have enacted policies making financial ties to industry more transparent or nonexistent.

A recent senate inquiry into industry relationships sought to clarify such industry ties with the Cardiovascular Research Foundation and the American College of Cardiology (ACC).

The New York Times on Dec. 3 reported that the public disclosure by The Cleveland Clinic appears to be the “first such step by a major medical center to disclose the industry relationships of individual doctors.”

A quick search of half a dozen high-profile institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, the University of Chicago Medical Center and Columbia University Medical Center showed that none of these facilities has a similar online disclosure policy.

The case has been made that it’s not necessary to eliminate ties to industry but to manage them appropriately and keep them transparent.

Douglass Weaver, MD, president of the ACC, said the organization depends on industry support to help carry out its mission.

“Rather than restricting industry funding…we should instead focus on actively managing relationships with industry and the potential for conflicts of interest in our relationships,” Weaver said.

The Cleveland Clinic states that it will publicly disclose payments to its physicians and scientists for speaking and consulting of $5,000 or more per year, and any equity, royalties, and fiduciary relationships in companies with which they collaborate.