Conflict of Interest
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
General Conflict of Interest Questions
1.) What is the MUSC/MUHA Policy on Conflict of Interest?
Answer: The MUSC Board of Trustees developed and approved a Conflict of Interest Policy. To understand the purpose and scope you can read the policy here. If you are a member of the MUSC enterprise and are required to complete an annual online conflict of interest disclosure, you will see additional educational modules during the disclosure process. Colleges and other administrative units may have additional policies that may further define the Board's policy.
2.) What do I do if I think someone has a conflict of interest and is not disclosing the relationship?
Answer: You should contact the COI Officer: Mary Evelyn Armstrong, 792-5907. You may also contact one of the compliance officers for the MUSC Enterprise. The Compliance Officers are: Reece Smith [for MUHA 792-7795], Cindy Teeter [for MUSC 792-8740], and Julie Acker [for MUSC Physicians 876-1325]. In this case, you can contact any of these officers and remain anonymous.
3.) What are some of the important / developing issues surrounding conflict of interest?
Answer: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published new rules on conflict of interest in the Federal Register on August 25, 2011.
Congress has enacted legislation as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (3/21/2010) that addresses transparency between doctors and pharmaceutical companies and device makers, known as the Physician Payments Sunshine Act.
There is a Pharmaceutical position on business-physician relationships and link to PhRMA Code of Interactions with Health Care Professionals.
There is a Medical Device makers position and link to Advanced Code of Ethics.
4.) We are a state institution. Doesn’t South Carolina have laws that deal with conflict of interest?
Answer: Rules regarding conduct as employees of the State of South Carolina are covered by the SC Ethics Laws. Conflict of interest disclosures deal with the relationships between employees and outside companies, most of which are legitimate, and not necessarily a conflict. It is a tool to create an atmosphere of transparency between the Enterprise, its employees, and the public.
Conflict of Interest Disclosure Questions
1.) Who should I contact if I'm not sure about disclosing a particular relationship?
Answer: If you have particular questions about your relationship with an outside entity, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
2.) Do I need to disclose my relationship with MUSC and / or other parts of the enterprise (MUHA, MUSC Physicians, VA)?
Answer: Income/compensation that comes to you through your relationship with MUSC/MUHA/MUSC Physicians payroll or from the VA (via a MOU) does not need to be disclosed. These relationships are approved parts of the MUSC Enterprise and do not represent an outside entity. *The only exception is that you do need to disclose royalties related to licensed technologies that are paid to you through MUSC and the MUSC Foundation for Research Development.
3.) What? Again? I already filled out my online disclosure – last year, last month, etc?
Answer: The MUSC/MUHA Conflict of Interest Policy as approved by the Board of Trustees requires at least annual disclosure of any possible conflicts of interest. All salaried employees and anyone meeting the PHS definition of investigator on MUSC research must complete the disclosure and participate in the annual disclosure process. You are required to complete the online disclosure at least once a year during a specified time period. You are also required to update or modify your current disclosure within 30 days of a change to an outside relationship.
4.) Who is required to complete the MUSC COI online disclosure?
Answer: All salaried employees of the MUSC Enterprise (MUSC, MUHA, MUSC Physicians, MUSC FRD, etc) and anyone meeting the PHS definition of investigator on MUSC research are required to complete an online COI disclosure at least annually. This is in compliance with the MUSC BOT COI Policy. Outside contracted employees are typically not required to complete the MUSC COI Disclosure; however, if you are not sure you should contact either your supervisor, a MUSC Compliance Officer, or email@example.com.
5.) What happens to my online disclosure if I report a relationship with an outside entity?
Answer: If you answer “NO” to the initial screening questions in the disclosure process, your submitted disclosure will be recorded as completed, will be processed by the COI Office, marked as “no reported conflicts," and closed from further review.
If you answer “YES” to one of the questions, you are then required to complete an entity disclosure form. Your disclosure will be reviewed by the COI Office. The COI Office will decide whether the disclosure 1.) meets criteria for administrative review or committee review 2.) contains potential Intellectual Property (IP) issues and is reviewed by the MUSC Foundation for Research Development and / or the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, 3.) contains relationships that pertain to research interests and / or clinical trials and is reviewed by the Research Conflict of Interest Committee, or 4.) has clinical, consulting, or procurement issues and is reviewed by the University Conflict of Interest Committee. These committees are made up of a diverse group of faculty and staff of MUSC. After consideration by the assigned review committee, the individual will be contacted for either more information or, if necessary, to provide a management plan to eliminate or mitigate any real or potential COI.
Who are the current committee chairs?
The committee rosters are located here
If you have questions about the status of your disclosure you can contact the Conflict of Interest Officer, Mary Evelyn Armstrong at 792-5907.
6.) As an MUSC employee, when do I have to disclose giving talks to outside groups and organizations in my professional area? Is there anything else I should know?
Answer: When do I have to disclose giving talks to outside groups and organizations? When you receive payment for the talk such as honorarium or speakers fee or when travel is reimbursed to you or sponsored on your behalf by the group or organization. You may exclude from disclosure income from seminars, lectures, or teaching engagements sponsored by and service on advisory or review panel for federal, state, or local government agency, an institution of higher education as defined at 20 U.S.C. 1001(a), an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an institution of higher education.
Answer: Is there anything else I should know about giving talks to outside groups and organizations? Speakers bureaus and promotional speaking are prohibited. You should also be aware of the State of SC Ethics Laws and the rules of conduct established by the SC State Ethics Commision which state that a public official, public member, or public employee may not receive anything of value for speaking before a public or private group in his/her official capacity. You should be sure to not present yourself as a representative of the MUSC Enterprise, unless you have a contract approved by MUSC legal counsel and that you are actually representing MUSC as your professional responsibility. These are only guidelines and the details of these types of talks should be reviewed and agreed upon by the employee (speaker), his/her supervisor, and MUSC legal counsel.
7.) Conflict of interest is an important and somewhat confusing topic. Who can I contact with specific questions?
Answer: There are a number of resources on campus to help you before you enter into relationships with outside entities and/or to discuss your current outside relationships.
For Research or Sponsored Projects: Office of Research and Sponsored Programs,Darren McCants (792-3832)
For Intellectual Property / Patent / Copyright: MUSC Foundation for Research Development, (876-1900)
MUSC Legal Counsel: Annette Drachman (792-4063)
General COI or COI Disclosure questions and process : Mary Evelyn Armstrong (792-5907).
Compliance Issues : Reece Smith, MUHA (792-7795), Cindy Teeter, MUSC (792-8740), and Julie Acker, MUSC Physicians (876-1325).