A group of influential medical leaders, including past and present leaders of medical societies, is calling for professional medical associations (PMAs) to rid themselves of their dependence on funding from pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. The call for action is published in the April 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and calls this monetary dependence “a threat to quality patient care and professional integrity.”

“PMAs play a pivotal role in educating physicians and advancing the practice of medicine, but they must be scientifically objective and avoid even the appearance of commercial bias. Only a policy that precludes acceptance of outright financial support from industry can meet the most rigorous standards for independence and integrity,” says co-author Steven Nissen, MD, who chairs the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

The article urges PMAs to work toward an ultimate goal of $0 contributions from industry excepting revenues from journal advertisements and exhibit hall fees. The authors of the JAMA article offer a list of 10 detailed recommendations to help PMAs move toward this goal.

The authors recognize this change is no easy task. “It is likely that eliminating drug and device company support may require PMAs to transform their mode of operation and perhaps even give up activities of considerable value,” they write. Nevertheless, the JAMA authors back their convictions that change is needed. “We must develop a new model for our relationship with industry—one that is both transparent and clearly separates education from marketing,” says co-author James Scully, MD, medical director and CEO, American Psychiatric Association.

The 10 recommendations set out by the authors can be found in JAMA, along with the complete article.