As world leaders in research and clinical care delivery, the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences and the UPMC have a responsibility to conduct all of their activities in a manner that serves the public interest. Many other constituencies, including the drug and device industries, share in the desire to advance science and improve healthcare. However, it is important to recognize that the interests of academic institutions and not for profit healthcare systems are grounded in a set of professional standards and ethical principles focused on serving the needs of patients and society as a whole, regardless of personal or institutional economic gain. On the other hand, the ultimate fiduciary responsibility of industry is to shareholders. Although there are many circumstances in which the goals of academic health centers and industry align, when conflicts do arise, healthcare professionals and scientists and the organizations within which they work must advocate solely for the interests of the public.
As the cost of healthcare services increases and the public becomes more concerned about the quality and accessibility of care, there is enhanced concern about the effect of relationships between healthcare professionals and industry. A growing body of peer-reviewed literature demonstrates that seemingly innocuous interactions such as provision of meals and small gifts – activities that have been historically considered acceptable by professional standards – can influence decision-making in a manner that supports the financial interests of industry, rather than the best interest of patients. It is in this context that we have developed a set of guidelines to help UPMC healthcare professionals, and Schools of the Health Sciences faculty, staff, and students conduct their professional activities in a way that will promote the translation of the best available evidence and research into clinical care.
Our tremendous success in research and clinical care results from the world-renowned expertise and high level of professionalism of those who work and train at the Schools of the Health Sciences and UPMC. In order to thrive in the complex and ever-changing environment of healthcare, we must assume a leadership role in responding to the needs of the public and incorporating the best available evidence into our professional work. We look forward to working with you to implement these guidelines and thank you for your commitment to the highest quality of clinical care delivery, research, and education.
Jeffrey A. Romoff
Arthur S. Levine, MD
Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences
John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine
University of Pittsburgh - Of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education