ASCO Updates Conflict of Interest Policies

Apr 22, 2014

Disclosure of financial relationships with companies focuses on integrity of education and science

As a continuing medical education provider accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education and a signatory to the Council of Medical Specialty Societies’ Code for Interactions with Companies, ASCO is committed to balance, independence, objectivity, and scientific rigor in all of its educational activities through appropriate disclosure and management of financial interests. Since ASCO last revised its conflict of interest policy in 2005, the Society has become a much larger and more complex organization, mirroring the rapid evolution and increasing complexity of the oncology field. To continue its responsible management of financial interactions that could create real or perceived conflicts of interest for scientists, health professionals, and organizations, ASCO updated its policy in 2013, and the new policy has been fully implemented for activities that initiate after April 2014. The new policy is titled “Policy for Relationships With Companies” (

The policy applies to individuals who engage in ASCO volunteer activities, present research findings through ASCO’s continuing medical education programs, and develop ASCO Clinical Practice Guidelines, as well as to authors who submit abstracts and publish articles in ASCO journals.

The policy introduces new disclosure categories that are intended to include disclosure for all relationships with health care companies, rather than just those related specifically to the subject matter of a particular article, abstract, or volunteer role. As part of the implementation of the new policy, participants will have the opportunity to disclose their interactions with companies in a single database and simply confirm or update this information with each new ASCO activity rather than re-submitting their disclosures. In April 2014, ASCO will introduce a new online system that will help facilitate general disclosure.

Abstracts and presentations submitted to the 2014 ASCO Annual Meeting are not affected by the new policy, as submission and session planning occurred prior to the implementation date. The first ASCO-cosponsored meeting affected by the new policy is the 2014 Breast Cancer Symposium on September 4-6.

The new policy names 11 categories of financial relationships with companies that must be disclosed:
1. Employment
2. Leadership positions
3. Stock ownership
4. Honoraria
5. Consulting or advisory activities
6. Speakers’ bureaus
7. Research funding
8. Patents, royalties, or other intellectual property interests
9. Expert testimony
10. Travel, accommodations, and expenses
11. Other relationships

In addition to the general disclosures that will be provided by all participants of an activity, the first, last, and corresponding authors of submitted manuscripts  and abstracts that pertain to original research will be asked to provide additional information about their relationship with the research sponsor.

ASCO’s “Policy for Relationships With Companies” does not create a presumption of impropriety in the existence of financial interests or other relationships of a commercial nature. Instead, it recognizes the many factors that can influence judgments about research data and represents a desire to make as much information as possible available to those reviewing data before presentation or publication.

ASCO applies the same disclosure standards to its own leadership. ASCO and the Conquer Cancer Foundation will continue to publicly disclose financial support of programmatic activities, including grants, sponsorships, and charitable contributions, as well as the financial relationships held by directors and officers. The Journal of Clinical Oncology and the Journal of Oncology Practice will continue to disclose relationships held by their editors.

The full policy, a related editorial, and frequently asked questions are available at Please email with specific questions or concerns.

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