Proposed Conflict of Interest and Bias Policy
For Members of the Peer Consultation Panel
(Reproduced from the Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA) Guidelines Developed under the Voluntary Children’s Chemical Evaluation Program for Peer Consultation Panels, see: http://www.tera.org/peer/COI.html)
Identification and management of potential conflict of interest (COI) and bias issues are paramount to the success and credibility of any peer consultation program composed of external scientific experts.
TERA’s conflict of interest and bias policy for VCCEP panel candidates follows procedures in accordance with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. EPA. Additionally, TERA has identified specific items which are considered to be conflicts of interest or biases for VCCEP panel candidates and has prepared a policy and procedure governing VCCEP panelist selection. These items are defined and described below.
Conflict of Interest
Conflict of Interest (COI) for a VCCEP peer consultation panel candidate specifically includes, but is not limited to:
- Working for an organization sponsoring the chemical to be reviewed at the panel meeting,
- Having direct personal financial investments in the sponsoring organization or in the chemical itself, or
- Authoring the sponsoring organization’s assessment documents submitted to the VCCEP panel.
Bias for a VCCEP peer consultation panel candidate specifically includes, but is not limited to
- Has previously taken a public position on subjects to be discussed by the panel, or
- Is affiliated with an industry, governmental, public interest, or other group with a partiality regarding subjects to be discussed by the panel.
Most scientists with technical expertise in areas relevant to VCCEP will have existing opinions about the subject matter and therefore may be considered to have some degree of bias.
TERA’s policy on COI and bias for VCCEP peer consultation panel members is as follows:
- Candidates will disclose all potential conflicts of interest and biases to TERA during the selection process.
- Candidates with COI will not be eligible for membership on those panels where their conflicts apply; however, they may be selected as Core Group panel members and participate in other panel meetings. Core Group panel members must recuse themselves for specific chemical panels in which they have a COI.
- Candidates with biases generally will be eligible for all panel memberships; however, extreme biases, such as those likely to impair a candidate’s ability to make meaningful scientific contributions, will disqualify a candidate.
- The overall membership of each panel will reflect a range of biases.
TERA will implement its VCCEP policy on COI and bias as follows:
- Candidates who meet scientific qualifications and other criteria will be requested to provide written disclosure of potential COI and biases to TERA by completing written questionnaires. TERA will treat the questionnaires as private and personal information.
- TERA will discuss potential COI and bias issues with each candidate individually.
- TERA will determine whether each candidate meets the VCCEP peer consultation panel COI and bias requirements according to the Policy stated above.
All biases related to the selected panelists will be disclosed at the panel meeting and noted in the panel meeting report.