Our primary aim, and the reason we were founded, is to educate and promote best practice in the diagnosis and treatment of all allergic disease. There is a well-recognised gap in the undergraduate medical curriculum with less that one hour of teaching on average dedicated to allergic disease at UK medical schools. Our work attempts to address this gap.
We believe that medical education should be as open and as accessible as possible, but it is impossible to put on educational events without hiring a venue, marketing, administration as well as paying travel expenses for experts in the field to speak. This can amount to a significant cost and in the current climate of study budget restrictions, medical education events can easily become a luxury unaffordable to frontline staff. Our model of working with industry sponsors aims to reduce these costs greatly and make medical education affordable for medical professionals. The Academy is a non-profit making organisation and any surplus is used to support further educational activities.
Whilst we are completely open about our source of funding, we recognise that there is an inherent danger in working with any commercial partners. This includes a risk of both real as well as perceived influence on the educational content we deliver. For this reason we have our own code of conduct for working with industry which can be read in full here. We also fully comply with the code of conduct published by the ‘Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry’ to guide interaction between healthcare services and industry (www.abpi.org.uk/about-us/resources/publications-library/code-guidance).
The main principles guiding our work are as follows:
- Industry partners have no editorial input into the content of the education or the choice of speakers or topics.
- The Allergy Academy itself does not exercise any control over the content of presentations given by our invited speakers, all of whom are clinicians expert in their field. To facilitate full disclosure we ask all speakers to declare any conflict of interests at the start of their presentation.
- Sponsors do have the opportunity of running sponsored symposia at some of our events, but these events are clearly branded as such, and are separate to the main event programme. They are not included in the CPD accreditation for any of our courses.
- Promotional activities are only allowed in the separate exhibition areas during refreshment breaks; we do not invite industry representatives to present within our main study programme. The decision to engage with the sponsors during the refreshment breaks is at the discretion of the individual delegate, and we would advise them to use their own clinical and scientific judgement to evaluate evidence presented to them.
The Allergy Academy has always been open and transparent with delegates at its events, and we freely acknowledge the source of our funding. On balance we have taken the practical decision that engaging with industry makes medical education more accessible to healthcare practitioners, and that the regulation and disclosures that we have in place allow our delegates to form their own, better informed opinion of current practice and guidance in the management of allergic disease.