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TGA advisory committee guidelines

Declarations of interests, managing conflicts of interests and confidentiality obligations, Version 1.9, August 2016

7 September 2016

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B. Significance of the management of 'conflicts of interest'

The committees of the TGA undertake a vital function in providing advice and expertise that is essential to the TGA in carrying out its regulatory functions. Members* must have specialist knowledge and expertise in one or more designated areas and are appointed to a committee for the purpose of providing expert advice in relation to matters coming before the committee. It is assumed therefore that members will apply their professional expertise and experience in relation to matters coming before the committee.

This is not what the conflict of interest rules are concerned with. These rules are about ensuring that there can be no perception that, taking into account the nature of the functions of the committee and the expertise of the relevant member, the member will not be able to bring an independent, objective and impartial approach to a particular matter before the committee because of a personal interest. However, because in many cases, the pool of potential members in Australia with the necessary expertise and experience and in a position to contribute to Australian public health outcomes through membership of one of these committees is not large, there is a potential for a conflict of interest to arise from time to time.

Any advice or recommendation of a committee in relation to a specific matter may be open to challenge if any of the members who participated in the development of that advice or recommendation had an actual or perceived 'conflict of interest'. Good management of conflict of interest issues protects the reputation and integrity of committees by helping ensure their impartiality and independence. This in turn helps ensure that the advice and recommendations of committees that inform the TGA's regulatory functions reflect the highest standards of professionalism and independence.

A conflict of interest will arise if a person's personal interests (whether financial/pecuniary or not) conflict with their duties as a committee member such that the person may not be independent, objective and impartial in relation to those duties. An apparent conflict of interest will arise if a conflict of interest may be perceived by a reasonable observer as conflicting, whether or not there is an actual conflict.

* A member is defined as a member of a committee or an expert advisor

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