ASCO removes restrictions on researchers’ conflict of interest

ASCO removed its restrictions on author relationships in the 2013 Policy for Relationships with Companies statement, and all eligible manuscripts and abstracts otherwise will be considered for peer review regardless of the financial relationships of authors.

“We have reached the conclusion that continued disclosure of commercial relationships, rigorous peer review, and management of potential conflicts of interest for all work submitted to ASCO best support our goals of trust and transparency and providing value to our members as a source for scientifically sound and unbiased original research,” Richard L. Schilsky, MD, chief medical officer of ASCO, and colleagues wrote.

The 2013 policy restricted publication and presentation of research in certain ASCO forums, making abstracts and articles describing company-funded original research to be ineligible for consideration if the first, last or corresponding author had been a company employee, investor or paid speaker during the previous 2 years.

However, researchers voiced concerns of barring “ASCO members and highly qualified scientists from presenting their important original research to the oncology community in a setting where the work could be critically reviewed and discussed,” according to an ASCO special article.

Therefore, these restrictions were placed on hold and the organization collected data for 2 years on the relationships of authors who submitted manuscripts or abstracts.

The data showed that potentially restricted submissions amounted to less than 2% of accepted journal articles and approximately 11% of accepted meeting abstracts.

“ASCO continues to support universal and accessible disclosure of financial relationships with companies by authors, speakers, reviewers and participants in ASCO activities,” Schilsky and colleagues wrote. “ASCO welcomes further research and engagement with audiences on the most effective ways of communicating and managing disclosure information and on the impact of conflict of interest policies on scientific discourse.”