Code of Ethics & Industry Guidelines
Canadian Rheumatology Association Code of Ethics
A code of ethics is necessary to avoid conflict of interest, or perceived conflict of interest, on the part of those that represent the CRA with industry, other organizations, and the public. Conflict of interest can be defined as a set of circumstances in which professional judgement concerning a primary interest (the CRA) tends to be unduly influenced by a secondary interest (such as financial gain). The CRA must take caution to prevent secondary interests from dominating or appearing to dominate the decisions of the members of the CRA Council. Disclosure of Conflict of Interest has limitations as a remedy for conflict of interest, and must be augmented by all other means including absenting oneself or prohibiting oneself from participation in certain activities.
Applies to every member of the CRA Council including officers, committee chairs, board of directors and liaisons including the CRAJ Editor-in-Chief and anyone else appointed by the CRA President during his/her term.
CRA Council including Members of the Board
The Council consists of all officers, board of directors, committee chairs and liaisons including the CRAJ Editor-in-Chief and anyone else appointed by the President of the CRA during his/her term.
The Board consist of those CRA members who are elected by the general membership. They are charged with governing the organization including fiscal and policy decisions.
- All CRA Council Members must be clear that they do not speak for the CRA (unless they have been given the authority to do so by consent of the full board of the CRA and/or its officers) when participating in the activities of such organizations writing opinion articles, participating on panels or speaking on behalf of industry or other organizations
- In all activities, agreements, new negotiations and speaking engagements, CRA Council Members must keep in mind their fiduciary responsibility to the CRA, state clearly that they do not speak on behalf of the CRA, and should excuse themselves from situations or activities that conflict with their role on the Council.
- CRA Council Members are expected to maintain the confidentiality of any information that may come their way through participation in CRA business. This would include information that may be technical, financial, legal, business-related or other proprietary information. They may not disclose this information to outside parties unless specifically authorized.
- CRA Council Members are expected to avoid situations where there may be conflict that interferes with their judgment in making decisions in the best interest of the CRA.
- CRA Council Members are expected to disclose any relationships that pose or could be construed to pose a potential conflict of interest. Full disclosure enables the Executive to resolve unclear situations and gives CRA Council Members an opportunity to declare and dispose of conflicting interest before difficulty arises.
- CRA Council Members shall not accept entertainment, gifts, favours that would create or appear to create a conflict of interest. They shall not accept cash, loans or securities from parties seeking to influence decision-making by the CRA.
- CRA Council Members shall not misappropriate CRA assets for personal use.
- CRA Council Members shall submit on an annual basis a disclosure that identifies any relationships that may pose, or appear to pose, potential conflicts. (The relationship may be as a consultant, major stockholder, member of speakers’ bureau, advisory board, grant recipient, membership in other organizations that may interact with the CRA, etc.) Disclosure of this relationship is not to prevent these relationships, but to allow the Executive to guide members of the board when their involvement in some issues may be subject to scrutiny and to avoid conflict of interest.
Research Committee Chair only:
Research Committee Chair is bound by all the above guidelines, but may be in the unique role of interacting with, and seeking sponsorship from, industry and other organizations. S/he is bound by all the above ethical guidelines in addition to the following:
- Be familiar with the CRA Industry Guidelines and must follow them during all negotiations and dealings with industry.
- Apprise the CRA President and the CRA Board of all decisions, appointments or agreements made by him/her on behalf of the CRA that might place the Chair in conflict of interest.
- Where conflict of interest is unclear, the Chair must consult with the CRA officers (President, Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer) who will determine if a conflict of interest exists and if the CRA Board should be involved in arbitration.
The President of the CRA acts as the spokesperson to the public, to industry, and to other organizations. The President is bound by all the above guidelines, but in addition, must remove himself/herself from all potential conflict of interest obligations.
The President must NOT:
- Participate in any industry Medical Advisory Board
- Act as spokesperson for any industry product or participate in industry speakers’ bureaus
- Give presentations at educational programs managed or directed by industry
- Receive any restricted or unrestricted grants from industry, except as related to Clinical Trials, as below
- Author articles of opinion, reports or reviews of industry-sponsored studies in industry-sponsored or non-peer reviewed publications, except as a spokesperson for the CRA
- Undertake authorship for industry slide collections, web-based material or other industry products of enduring content
- Serve on Editorial Boards of industry publications
- Take on National Leadership in The Arthritis Society (except as mutually determined by the CRA and TAS) or other non-profit charitable medical organizations (except as agreed by CRA Board).
The President may:
- Act as the spokesperson to the public, to industry, and to other organizations, in support of the Mission and Goals of the CRA
- Present at programs operated by academic, medical or non-profit organizations, even if supported by industry
- Be a site principal investigator or co-investigator for industry-supported clinical trials
- Be a chair or member of grant review panels
- Review manuscripts of industry-sponsored studies for peer-reviewed journals
- Author industry-sponsored research manuscripts submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
These ethical guidelines and shall be read and signed by each member of the CRA Council. They will be subject to revision as new items of ethical concern arise. Conflicting activities can be check-listed against these guidelines, and where in doubt, subjected to arbitration or abstention. Their continual revision and review of the disclosure form should be the responsibility of the Finance & Risk Management Committee, and legal opinion should be obtained when necessary.