The Mission of the Ethics Committee of the International Headache Society is to identify, interpret, and manage current challenging ethical issues pertaining to headache medicine at three levels:
1. Headache sufferers
To promote the welfare of headache sufferers by publishing advice, guidance and recommendations on ethical issues relevant to research, practice and treatment of headache disorders
2. Headache treatment and research organisations
To draft statements which will bring the relevant ethical concerns in the field of headache medicine to the attention of governments, the medical and allied professions, the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, lay and charitable organisations and any other relevant parties
3. IHS membership and organisation activities
To address ethical concerns of International Headache Society members regarding IHS activities
To initiate reviews of IHS activities that raise ethical concerns that are referred to or identified by IHS Ethics Committee
The Ethics Committee has developed several policies, approved by the IHS Board of Trustees to guide our organisational activities in a transparent way.
Conflict of Interest Policy
Conflict of Interest (CoI) is unavoidable but can be minimised and managed to avoid unprofessional behaviour (e.g. biased presentations, promotion of commercial products, withholding of information).
The best approaches for IHS meetings and congresses include prohibiting industry from controlling the content of educational sessions and data presentations, and clear and specific disclosure of CoI by each speaker and meeting planner.
A responsible and productive alliance with pharmaceutical and other medical technology companies is both possible and sometimes desirable in pursuit of IHS’ goals. However there are a number of areas in which conflicts of interest, or the perception of such conflicts may arise. These areas generally involve the potential for bias in our policies, educational programmes, and research. In order to minimise potential CoI the Conflict of Interest Policy was developed.
[Adapted from 1) Headache Cooperative of New England Pharmaceutical Industry Policy and 2) NIH Principles of Ethics]
A responsible and productive alliance with pharmaceutical and other medical technology companies is both possible and desirable in pursuit of our organisation’s goals. However there are a number of areas in which conflicts of interest, or the perception of such conflicts, may arise. These areas generally involve the potential for bias in our policies, educational programmes, and research. In order to minimise potential conflict of interest we endorse the following guidelines:
IHS shall maintain complete control over its policies. To this end, no representatives of pharmaceutical or medical device companies will participate in formulating or revising these policies.
IHS shall maintain complete control over the planning, content, and delivery of its educational programmes. To this end, no representatives of pharmaceutical or medical device companies will be involved in planning or directing its public educational and scientific meetings.
IHS shall maintain complete control over planning, execution, and publication of IHS investigator-initiated research. IHS will decide when and where to submit results of these studies for publication.
IHS shall maintain complete control over the content of its website, newsletter, and any other publications. No IHS media will include any industry-sponsored promotional or marketing material or advertisements. Authors and creators of all IHS publications will disclose all ties with industry, including roles as consultants, investigators, sponsored speakers, shareholders, or employees. This information will be clearly stated in programme syllabi.
IHS and members of its Board of Directors will strive to provide a balanced impartial view of data pertaining to commercial products. IHS will not endorse specific products.
IHS will accept grants for support of its programmes, over which it has complete control, and which do not pose any conflict of interest.
IHS and members of its Board of Directors will not accept gifts from pharmaceutical or device companies, other than educational or clinically useful items of modest value, or modest meals accompanying conferences.
Members of the IHS Board of Directors may receive reasonable compensation from pharmaceutical or other companies for services provided (e.g. bona fide consultation with pharmaceutical and medical technology companies, lecture engagements supported by industry sponsors, or participation as investigators in industry-sponsored research studies). These relationships will be made clear on the IHS public website.
Members of the IHS Board of Directors shall not use their position for private gain. They shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organisation or individual.
Speakers at IHS educational conferences will disclose all ties with industry, including roles as consultants, investigators, sponsored speakers, shareholders, or employees. This information will be clearly stated in programme brochure, and updated by the speaker at the time of her/his presentation.11. Promotional and marketing activities by pharmaceutical companies at IHS conferences will be clearly identified and delineated from educational and scientific presentations.
IHS will discourage the distribution of non-educational, non-clinically useful or excessive gifts to attendees at its conferences.
IHS shall maintain complete control over grants and scholarships it awards and will choose recipients in an unbiased fashion. To this end, no representatives of pharmaceutical or medical device companies will be involved at any level in awarding these grants.
It is essential the International Headache Congress (IHC) remains free of bias and control from industry.
There are levels of presentations at IHCs:
Industry symposia (Industry satellites).
In 2019 the Committee developed recommendations for IHC sessions and presentations:
Speakers should have only one presentation in the main congress programme; they may also be involved in a teaching course
IHC programme faculty can only speak in and/or chair one industry satellite symposium, for one company only
Speakers should use a standard disclosure slide template for their presentation.
An Ethics course is planned for IHC 2021.
The Ethics Committee has published two reports: Ethical issues arising from commercial sponsorship and from relationships with the pharmaceutical industry—Report and Recommendations of the Ethics Subcommittee of the International Headache Society, 2008, and Ethical Issues in Headache Research and Management, 1998.
Ethical issues arising from commercial sponsorship and from relationships with the pharmaceutical industry