New Code to prevent undesirable influence as a result of conflicts of interests
31 January 2012
Edith Schippers, Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS), receives the Code from Arie Nieuwenhuijzen-Kruseman, Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) , and Louise Gunning-Schepers, Health Council of the Netherlands.
On 31 January, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) and the Health Council of the Netherlands presented a code about dealing with conflicts of interest to Edith Schippers, Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, which she described as ‘an important step towards trust’. The Minister will send the Code to the Lower House, where conflicts of interest are frequently debated. Over 30 organisations have now signed the Code.* The interests of experts who, for example, are members of scientific and advisory committees will be made public through the code in order to prevent conflicts of interest and therefore improper influence.
Science benefits from cooperation with the business community, government and societaly agencies. In medical science, for example, such cooperation is crucial to the development of new medical products like medicines and vaccines. As a result of close cooperation, however, scientists can become linked to the industry at different levels and can also have conflicting interests. Such conflicts of interest can also occur in other scientific sectors and at patients’ associations. The organisations that have signed the Code recognise that all parties have interests and that these, rather than being denied, must be made visible and verifiable.
The Code deals with different kinds of situations in which the independent opinion of an expert may be compromised. Financial interests, personal relationships, ‘reputation management’, contract research and public-private partnership may play a role in this regard. Parties responsible for the preparation of scientific advisory reports and clinical practice guidelines consider it necessary to prevent the risk of improper influence to the greatest extent possible. The potential risks of interwoven interests have also been a source of concern in the media and parliament.
The Code to prevent improper influence as a result of conflicts of interest was drawn up on the initiative of the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Health Council of the Netherlands, the Dutch Institute for Healthcare Improvement (CBO), the Dutch College of General Practitioners (NHG) and the Order of Medical Specialists (OMS) and constitutes a tightening of existing policy. The Code contains a complete list of signatories.
* The code has been endorsed by CBO, the Medicines Evaluation Board (CBG), the Central Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects (CCMO), the Healthcare Insurance Board (CVZ), the Dutch Federation of Biomedical Scientific Societies (FEDERA), the Health Council of the Netherlands, the monthly magazine for general practitioners H&W, the knowledge and quality institute for providers of oncology care IKNL, KNAW, the Royal Dutch Association for Physiotherapy (KNGF), KNMG, the association for innovative medicines in the Netherlands Nefarma, the Dutch federation of cancer patient organisations NFK, the Dutch Federation of University Medical Centres (NFU), NHG, the Netherlands Youth Institute (NJI), the Dutch Dental Association (NMT), the Federation of Patients and Consumer Organisations in the Netherlands (NPCF), the Dutch Journal of Medicine (NTvG), the Dutch Association of Dieticians (NVD), the Dutch Association of Pharmaceutical Physicians (NVFG), the Netherlands Society for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (NVKC), the Dutch Association for Logopaedics and Phoniatrics (NVLF), OMS, the Regulatory Council for the Quality of Care, the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection (RIVM), the Council for Public Health and Care (RVZ), the Dutch Genetic Alliance (VSOP), the professional association of care professionals V&VN, the Association of Dutch Health Insurers (ZN) and the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw).
Note to the press
Further information at
Irene van Houten, KNAW, tel. +31 (0)20 5510 733 or +31 (0)6 1137 5909
Anneke Wijbenga, Health Council of the Netherlands, tel. +31 (0)70 3406 262 or +31 (0)6 1503 5225
Royal Dutch Medical Association Communications Department, tel. +31 (0)30 282 38 43 or +31 (0)6 22 23 4310 (outside working hours), or email@example.com