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May 2, 2017

Conflicts of Interest and Professional Medical Associations: Progress and Remaining Challenges

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio
JAMA. 2017;317(17):1737-1738. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.2516

Professional medical associations (PMAs) have a pivotal role in the health care system, representing medical specialties from as small as a few hundred practitioners to as large as the American Heart Association (AHA), with 33 000 members; the American Academy of Pediatrics, with 64 000 members; and the American Medical Association (AMA), with more than 200 000 members. The roles of PMAs are diverse and include serving as a key source of medical education, supervising and approving practice guidelines, and publishing influential medical journals. PMAs are also tasked with representing the financial interests of their members, and doing so often involves political lobbying and other efforts to influence health care policy, including physician reimbursement. The sensitive nature of these roles require PMAs to maintain a high degree of academic independence and scientific integrity by avoiding inappropriate influence from commercial interests.