There are differences in conflicts of interest (COIs) in professional organizations compared with academic medical centers. The authors discuss nine major questions pertaining to industry relationships of professional organizations: (1) What makes COI management different in professional membership organizations? (2) What COI challenges are specific to professional organizations? (3) What are potential impacts of perceived or real COIs involving professional organizations and the management of COIs? (4) Is regulation necessary, or should professional organizations proactively resolve COI issues independently? (5) Are guidelines portable from academic medical centers to professional organizations? (6) What approaches may be considered for managing COIs of the organization's leaders? (7) What approaches are reasonable for managing COI issues at professional meetings? (8) What approaches are important for integrity of educational programs, publications, and products? and (9) What approaches are reasonable for managing and enforcing COI guidelines on an ongoing basis?Responses to these questions focus on four principles: First, a code of ethics governing general behavior of members and safeguarding the interest of patients must be in place; second, the monitoring and management of COI for leadership, including, in some cases, recusal from certain activities; third, the pooling and consistent, transparent management of unrestricted grants from corporate sponsors; and, fourth, the management of industry marketing efforts at membership meetings to ensure their appropriateness. The perspectives offered are intended to encourage individuals and learned bodies to further study and provide commentary and recommendations on managing COIs of a professional organization.
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