The Position of the Headache Cooperative of New England (HCNE) Regarding its Relationship with the Pharmaceutical Industry

We at HCNE feel that a responsible and productive alliance with pharmaceutical companies is both possible and desirable in pursuit of our organization’s goals. However there are a number of areas in which possible conflicts of interest or the perception of such conflicts may arise. These areas include the potential for bias in our policies, educational programs, research projects, and publications.

As health care providers, our principal moral obligation is to promote the health of our patients. As a medical organization, we pursue this duty through dissemination of impartial educational material and generation of sound scientific research. The primary obligation of industry is to shareholders. The activities of HCNE and those of the pharmaceutical industry are aligned to the degree to which pharmaceutical products enhance our patients’ welfare. The development of pharmaceuticals that fulfill important medical needs requires that the process be guided by the clinical experiences of health care providers to clarify those needs. Thus, a thoughtful collaboration between parties is beneficial, as long as clear guidelines are in place.

These are our principles:

  1. HCNE shall maintain complete control over its policies. To this end, no representatives of pharmaceutical companies will participate in formulating or revising these policies.
  2. HCNE shall maintain complete control over the planning, content, and delivery of its educational programs. To this end, no representatives of pharmaceutical companies will be involved in planning or directing its public educational and scientific meetings.
  3. HCNE shall maintain complete control over planning, execution, and publication of HCNE investigator-initiated research. HCNE will decide when and where to submit results of these studies for publication.
  4. HCNE shall maintain complete control over the content of its website, newsletter, and any other publications. No HCNE media will include any industry-sponsored promotional or marketing material or advertisements.
  5. HCNE and members of its Board of Directors will strive to provide a balanced impartial view of data pertaining to commercial products. HCNE will not endorse specific products.
  6. HCNE will accept grants for support of its programs, over which it has complete control, and which do not pose any conflict of interest.
  7. HCNE and members of its Board of Directors will not accept gifts from pharmaceutical companies, other than educational or clinically useful items of modest value, or modest meals accompanying conferences.
  8. Members of the HCNE Board of Directors may receive reasonable compensation from pharmaceutical companies for services provided (e.g. bona fide consultation, lecture engagements supported by industry sponsors, or participation as investigators in industry-sponsored research studies).
  9. Speakers at HCNE educational conferences will disclose all ties with pharmaceutical companies including roles as consultants, investigators, sponsored speakers, shareholders, or employees. This information will be clearly stated in program syllabi.
  10. Promotional and marketing activities by pharmaceutical companies at HCNE conferences will be clearly delineated from educational facets of our meetings. HCNE will discourage the distribution of non-educational, non-clinically useful or excessive gifts to attendees at its conferences.