Sample Essay On Apa Task Force On External Funding
There is increasing concern from various professions, as well as in the sciences, about the influence of corporate funding on activities, as well as directions taken. In 2002, the American Psychological Association President at the time, Phil Zimbardo attended a meeting held by the American Psychiatric Association (American Psychological Association (APA)). The nature of the exhibits, which were under the sponsorship of the pharmaceutical companies, surprised him. Due to the prescription privileges enjoyed by psychologists, there was fear that pharmaceutical companies would gain stronger interest in providing sponsorship for events organized by APA (Angell, 2004). Hence, this gave rise to a Presidential Task Force, established to tackle the issue of External Funding. The task force was mandated to look into the experiences of other organizations and professions that also received this sponsorship. It would then propose policies to safeguard APA’s integrity while not curtailing its activities.
In situations where the donor and recipient organization’s values conflict, problems may result. However, an interesting point to note is how the donor organizations find ways around this. Donors utilize some cleverly crafted strategies for the purpose of masking the true sources and even the actual sums that are given for activities favorable to the organizations (Angell, 2004). These strategies are applied widely in many industries ranging from tobacco to real estate, lead, and even agribusiness. In fact, the truth about this funding usually only becomes known in case of litigation.
The Task Force did a review of various activities, spanning various disciplines and eventually decided to focus on funding in the pharmaceuticals sector. Three reasons advised this choice. The first reason was the good documentation of the effects of this funding in pharmaceuticals on the medical field. The second reason was the interest of the pharmaceutical organizations in sponsoring some APA events. This interest, which has already materialized into action, should only rise in time. The third reason was the great wealth and immense political clout that the pharmaceutical industry has (American Psychological Association (APA)). This naturally made it a point of interest.
The power and profitability of the pharmaceuticals industry make it virtually impossible to rein in (Spitz & Wickham, 2012). Hence, in light of the close interaction that continues to grow between the APA and pharmaceuticals, this report was necessary in order to develop ways of avoiding the mistakes other associations had made. Hence, it details the problems noted and offers recommendations on the way forward. These recommendations will help in the drafting of policies that will guard the organization’s integrity.
The fact that relationships between the donor organizations which provide the corporate finance and the scientists, as well as other professionals who are involved in the application of the findings necessitated the creation of The External Funding Task Force (American Psychological Association (APA)). This task force was mandated to look into the laid down policies and procedures, which the APA applies or abides by, when determining whether to take funds and other monetary forms of support that, are proffered by institutions in the private sector. These organizations claim these funds are meant to fund educational programs, as well as training opportunities. They also provide for research and various publications. Advertising is another key aspect that is covered by these funds. The funds also used in sponsoring of the organization’s meetings and other normal events that were derived from the sponsors were probed. After this analysis was done, the Task Force would give recommendations on changes that could be instituted and policies to be drafted. The necessity of this lies in the need to maintain the high moral standards of the APA and avoid its manipulation by these pharmaceuticals.
The subcommittees operated by identifying a problem and giving an example from the pharmaceutical industry. The committee would then issue recommendations on possible action or changes that it felt was best in those circumstances. In terms of the association income, it is evident that the pharmaceutical industry, thanks to its massive influence, both politically and financially has managed to become the dominant force in as far as the direction of medical treatment is concerned (Angell, 2004). The industry also exerts its influence on the physician education. The pharmaceutical industry was observed to exert influence over most branches or areas of the healthcare system in the USA. The pharmaceutical industry spends huge amounts on marketing, both directly and indirectly. Some of the money was disguised education or as research, but it was just a clever way of further advertising. These organizations then pass on the costs to the final consumer through higher prices (Angell, 2004).
Some of the recommendations offered were that APA should never allow external funds to make up the core budget of the Association. This is regardless of whether they are direct or indirect costs. The next recommendation was not to use external financing to cover budgetary deficits or to finance projects that were in progress at that time. The task force expressed an area of concern in the funding given to the directorate (American Psychological Association (APA)).
Another area of concern was the action at the yearly convention, where the pharmaceuticals had set up stands running into hundreds of thousands. To this regard, the committee recommended that limits on things such as sizes of banners and gifts be imposed. However, the financial considerations of APA were relevant here since these banners and plans sold were a source of income (American Psychological Association (APA)).
The next aspect was on the research as well as scholarly journals. Drug manufacturers, and other private companies which maintain a secret interest in the study’s outcome, increasingly provide funds for the research. Pharmaceutical innovations are usually the byproduct of these researches and do not come from the companies (Spitz & Wickham, 2012). In addition, a large portion of the amount spent on performing clinical trials is provided by these companies. In addition, there is a huge conflict of interest because more than half of the researchers who should be testing the new drug have some sort of conflict of interest (American Psychological Association (APA)). Hence, it can be concluded that some level of bias is evident on the results of these researches because of the undue influence being exerted on them by the pharmaceutical companies. One recommendation in this case was that all data used in any psychology study should be the subject of an independent review done by a qualified person. Another one was that researchers should sign off on the research, declaring that it was done independently (American Psychological Association (APA)).
Another area was that of continuous medical education where companies in the pharmaceutical industry have supported this education. This is because it helps them to market their own products, and they then pay for the education using the profits gotten from this marketing (Angell, 2004). However, it is not in order for the industry to be involved in this since they have a stake. Instead, this should be left to the professional bodies initially in charge of this. The task force recommendation is that all candidates looking for APA approval should declare all conflict of interest.
In the area of practice, research indicates that gifts offered by pharmaceutical firms, however small, have a tendency to influence the recipient. Even just meeting with representatives of pharmaceutical companies causes them to be biased. Advertising is another source of bias especially when patients in the doctor’s room see this material, in form of caps or pens (Busfield, 2006). The recommendations here are that psychologists to know that the advertising may be a source of inadvertent bias and may cause others to be influenced. When clients see the brand names, they may see it as a sort of endorsement for those particular brands (Busfield, 2006). Psychologists should also be made aware of the effects of having close relationships with representatives of the pharmaceutical companies. Psychologists should not accept any gifts from the representatives of pharmaceutical companies. This should apply regardless of the value of these gifts. Even accepting to be reimbursed for expenses incurred in the attendance of conferences or seminars is considered unethical (American Psychological Association (APA)).
Thus, it is doubtless that the pharmaceutical companies dominate this market. Since these large companies are in stiff competition with each other, they always look for an advantage in any way. The large companies also have the political connections as well as the financial muscle to resist any efforts to challenge their power. Hence, this realization will aid the APA to put in place strategies that ensure that APA does not make mistakes akin to those in other industries.
American Psychological Association (APA). (n.d.). APA Task Force on External Funding. Retrieved March 28, 2015, from American Psychological Association (APA): http://www.apa.org/pubs/info/reports/external-funding.aspx
Angell, M. (2004). The truth about the drug companies: How they deceive us and what to do about it. New York: Random House.
Busfield, J. (2006). Pills, Power, People: Sociological Understandings of the Pharmaceutical Industry. Sociology, 297-314.
Spitz, J., & Wickham, M. (2012). Pharmaceutical High Profits: The Value of R&D, or Oligopolistic Rents? The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 1-36.