Conflicts of interest may arise in many different forms. This code of conduct should be read in light of EORTC policy on ‘Conflict of interest, bribery and confidentiality’, available on the EORTC website. In general, a “conflict of interest” occurs when a personal, institutional or family interest interferes, or even has the potential to interfere with our ability to make sound, objective decisions on behalf of the organization. Such a situation might create bias and should be avoided. Therefore, EORTC must prevent any relationship or activity that might impair, or appear to impair, its ability to make objective and fair decisions when performing daily tasks. EORTC reputation for excellence is key and all must be put in place to guarantee EORTC reputation.
Other possible conflicts of interest are:
- Conducting activities not in line with EORTC mission (e.g. commercial activities with pharma companies). EORTC officers may not have a key leading and decisional role for new activities conflicting with EORTC missions during their mandate i.e., coordinating commercial clinical trials conflicting with EORTC activities while being a group officer.
- Source of funding. EORTC emphasizes the importance of ethical sources of funding in compliance with its mission. As an example, funding from companies whose missions may play against health or ethical values is not recommended and will not be accepted, unless they address counter measures towards better health.
- Giving and accepting gifts and entertainment from (potential) commercial partners
Business gifts and entertainment can be appropriate courtesies that build corporate goodwill between EORTC and those in the commercial sector with whom we collaborate. However, a conflict of interest may arise if these courtesies are used to influence a business decision.
A business gift or entertainment should not be accepted by an individual representing EORTC in an interaction with a commercial entity if:
- Doing so would make it difficult, or appear difficult, to make a fair and unbiased decision
- It exceeds a nominal value of 50 euros
- It exceeds commonly accepted business practices
Common examples of acceptable forms of entertainment or gifts are benefits that have a nominal value or a meal at a moderately priced restaurant for the purpose of partnership discussion.
Furthermore, if the person allocating a benefit / grant / payment as a representative of an EORTC group, and the person receiving it, as an individual, member of an external group or institution, are the same person, this constitutes a major conflict. In another word, an individual cannot be both part of a granting committee and being one of the grantees.
- Organization of public events with commercial entities
Groups may be invited to organize workshops or conferences in partnership with the commercial sector. This should be done with caution to avoid any commercial ties. Such meetings should in principle be discussed with the EORTC Chief Executive Officer (CEO). It is strongly discouraged to hold events with a single company to avoid any ties with a company’s portfolio. Such events should be organized with a panel of companies and/or organizations representing the commercial sector, usually to exchange on generic and not pipeline specific questions. This does not affect the possibility for EORTC and/or one its group to hold a private strategic meeting for potential cooperation with a company, with the involvement of the EORTC HQ.
When in doubt, it is each one’s responsibility to seek advice or guidance from the EORTC CEO, or the head of the relevant department or team.