Frequently Asked Questions


Speaking Engagements and Attending Industry Functions

My spouse (who does not work at the University or UPMC) has been invited to a dinner funded by a drug manufacturer; may I accompany my spouse to this event?

Yes, provided that you pay for your own meal. Although the invitation is to your spouse, the same principles that apply to the direct prohibition of Industry providing you with gifts or free meals would apply in this case.


I have been asked to speak at an event for which Industry is providing sponsorship; are there any limitations in the policy on my accepting this invitation?

Faculty may participate as speakers at Industry-sponsored educational meetings, but both the event and the lecture must meet the requirements of the policy as described in Section 6 of the IR Policy). As for the event, it should be an activity that is designed to promote evidence-based clinical care and/or to advance scientific research; the financial support of Industry must be disclosed; Industry must not pay attendees’ travel and attendance expenses, or provide gifts or other compensation for attendance; and any meals provided must be modest (i.e., the value of which is comparable to the Standard Meal Allowance as specified by the United States Internal Revenue Service). If the event meets these requirements, faculty members may participate as speakers, provided that they prepare their own content (i.e., have full control of their content without any approval of the content by Industry), and the talk reflects a balanced assessment of current science and alternative treatment options and is not focused on a single company’s product. The speaker must make it clear that the views expressed are those of the speaker and not of the SOHS. Faculty members may accept a modest honorarium (not to exceed $2,500 per event) and reimbursement of reasonable travel expenses. Please note that reimbursement of travel expenses for speakers is a part of the compensation that faculty receive for speaking, and, therefore, reimbursement of travel expenses for speakers—so long as Industry does not pay the travel expenses of those who are simply attendees—does not violate the policy. Department chairs must verify that the off-campus activity meets these requirements before approving the speaking agreement.


I have been invited to an event to announce a new product launch by a drug or device company; is this permitted? What if I am invited to participate as a speaker?

No. As described in the above FAQ, such an event would not be designed to promote evidence-based clinical care; it would be a promotional event for one company’s product. Because the event is promotional, attendance as a speaker would not be appropriate.


If I am asked to speak at a meeting, how do I differentiate between a venue that is permitted under the policy (one that promotes evidence-based clinical care and/or advances scientific research) and one that is not permitted (e.g., a marketing or advertising event)?

The following checklist (developed by WPIC) can be used as an example to help you assess whether or not a particular event is designed for marketing or advertising purposes. The single most significant indicator of whether an event is designed for marketing is whether the company seeks to provide you with the content to deliver, or seeks to approve or edit your materials. Commercial interests cannot exert control over the content of your presentation, including mandating that you use materials that they produce, and/or requiring that they review and approve your content. Meeting attendees cannot have travel or lodging paid by the company (unless participation in the meeting is part of a training program paid for under an equipment purchasing agreement) and cannot accept personal gifts, compensation for attending, or meals that exceed the IRS standard meal allowance, or occur apart from the educational activity. The intent of the activity must be balanced and educational in nature. Dinner meetings at expensive restaurants, where the talk is a minor part of the event, would be considered primarily promotional. Programs designed to advertise or promote a specific product without providing risks, contra-indications, and unbiased information about competitors’ products are not programs at which UPMC personnel or University faculty should speak.


A company has invited a faculty member to speak at an event next week; is there a simple, quick way to ensure that the speaking agreement with Industry complies with the requirements of the Industry Relationship Policy?

You should first ensure that the speaking engagement is for an acceptable event (i.e., it will promote evidence-based clinical care or advance scientific research). That being the case, instead of editing an Industry-proposed agreement, both parties should sign and date the Speaker’s Agreement Addendum to override impermissible terms of the Industry-proposed agreement.


Under what circumstances can I accept payment directly from Industry for speaking engagements conducted outside of the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC?

These types of activities fall under the guidelines and approval processes for consulting at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC, including the consummation of a written agreement that is compliant with provisions in Section 6 of the Industry Relationships Policy and which is executed prior to the engagement. In addition to the limit of the honorarium to $2500, compensation for travel expenses must be reasonable (consistent with the duration and nature of the speaking engagement and in compliance with UPMC and/or University of Pittsburgh travel policies). For example, Industry cannot compensate for extra nights’ lodging beyond what would be required to conduct the speaking engagement, and payment for international travel for brief speaking engagements would not be considered reasonable.

In addition, the event itself must be an acceptable event under the Industry Relations Policy. In general, professional society sponsored scientific or clinical programs where CME is awarded and the content is not controlled by industry sponsors are acceptable. However, “satellite symposia” where a specific company sponsor is paying for the event and has oversight of the faculty member’s content and/or introduces a promotional component to the program through the content of the other speakers is not an acceptable speaking venue for our faculty.