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Conflict of interest between professional medical societies and industry: a cross-sectional study of Italian medical societies’ websites
  1. Alice Fabbri1,2,
  2. Giorgia Gregoraci3,
  3. Dario Tedesco4,5,
  4. Filippo Ferretti5,6,
  5. Francesco Gilardi5,7,
  6. Diego Iemmi5,8,
  7. Cosima Lisi6,
  8. Angelo Lorusso2,
  9. Francesca Natali2,
  10. Edit Shahi5,8,
  11. Alessandro Rinaldi5,6
  1. 1Centre of Research in Medical Pharmacology, University of Insubria, Varese, Italy
  2. 2Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, Centre for International Health, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
  3. 3Department of Medical and Biological Sciences, Institute of Hygiene and Clinical Epidemiology, University of Udine, Udine, Italy
  4. 4Department of Biomedical and NeuroMotor Science, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
  5. 5Italian Medical Residents Committee of the Italian Society of Hygiene, Preventive Medicine and Public Health (S It I), Rome, Italy
  6. 6Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, La Sapienza University, Rome, Italy
  7. 7Department of Biomedicine and Prevention, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy
  8. 8Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health, University of Milan, Milan, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alice Fabbri; afabbri{at}, alealifab{at}


Objective To describe how Italian medical societies interact with pharmaceutical and medical device industries through an analysis of the information available on their websites.

Design Cross sectional study.

Setting Italy.

Participants 154 medical societies registered with the Italian Federation of Medical-Scientific Societies.

Main outcome measures Indicators of industry sponsorship (presence of industry sponsorship in the programme of the last medical societies’ annual conference; presence of manufacturers’ logos on the homepage; presence of industry sponsorship of satellite symposia during the last annual conference).

Results 131 Italian medical societies were considered. Of these, 4.6% had an ethical code covering relationships with industry on their websites, while 45.6% had a statute that mentioned the issue of conflict of interest and 6.1% published the annual financial report. With regard to industry sponsorship, 64.9% received private sponsorship for their last conference, 29.0% had manufacturers’ logos on their webpage, while 35.9% had industry-sponsored satellite symposia at their last conference. The presence of an ethical code on the societies’ websites was associated with both an increased risk of industry sponsorship of the last conference (relative risk (RR) 1.22, 95% CIs 1.01 to 1.48 after adjustment) and of conferences and/or satellite symposia (RR 1.22, 95% CIs 1.02 to 1.48 after adjustment) but not with the presence of manufacturers’ logos on the websites (RR 1.79, 95% CIs 0.66 to 4.82 after adjustment). No association was observed with the other indicators of governance and transparency.

Conclusions This survey shows that industry sponsorship of Italian medical societies’ conferences is common, while the presence of a structured regulatory system is not. Disclosure of the amount of industry funding to medical societies is scarce. The level of transparency therefore needs to be improved and the whole relationship between medical societies and industry should be further disciplined in order to avoid any potential for conflict of interest.

  • Conflict of interest
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Medical Societies

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