ABA Health eSource
May 2009 Volume 5 Number 9

Chair's Column
by Vickie Yates Brown, Frost Brown Todd LLC, Louisville, KY

Vickie Yates BrownThe Section held its spring Council meeting on April 24-26 th in Louisville, Kentucky and I thoroughly enjoyed hosting the section leaders in my hometown. We worked hard with a full business agenda, but time was also set aside for Council members to enjoy the city during Derby week. Most importantly though, it is essential to highlight a couple of significant business items.

First, the Section approved an important Report and Recommendation concerning the task of managing conflicts of interest in medical research, education and medical practices. The Section recommended the establishment of uniform guidance on conflicts of interest in relationships between physicians, researchers and industry in conducting human subject research. The Section plans to bring this Report and Recommendation before the House of Delegates at the ABA Annual meeting in late July. This is a very timely issue and the Council appreciates the hard work of members the Healthcare Task Force, chaired by David Johnson, in conducting the research and preparing the document.

Coincidentally, on April 28 th, two days after the Council’s approval, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (“IOM”) issued 16 recommendations for managing financial relationships between medical professionals and the pharmaceutical industry, including banning researchers with financial interests in a product or company from conducting research clinical trials that involve human participants. For the most part, the IOM’s recommendations mirrored the recommendations set out in the Section’s Report and Recommendation approved by the Council.

Based on a detailed Report researched and prepared by members of David’s Task Force, the Section is recommending legislation, regulations and guidance which would include the following:

  1. Assure more consistent policies and practices in research settings by establishing one set of conflict of interest regulations and guidance which will govern all human subject research, including privately funded research;
  2. Assure fairness and consistency in the application of research conflict of interest regulations or guidance by clear and comprehensive identification of covered individuals and entities;
  3. Enhance transparency and consistency through the clear and comprehensive identification of the content of conflicts of interest information disclosures and the individuals by whom, and to whom such disclosures must be made;
  4. Minimize or eliminate unnecessary burdens associated with research conflict of interest rules, such as exempting certain types of financial interests from disclosure or conflict management requirements, provided that the annual aggregate amount from a manufacturer remains under a threshold level;
  5. Promote understanding and accountability through specific requirements for conflicts of interest education and training for covered individuals; and
  6. Promote effective implementation through specific guidance regarding enforcement.

As noted in the Report and Recommendation’s conclusion, the Council hopes to assure the proper management of conflicts of interest because “impartial judgment is essential to the quality of research and to the public’s trust in research results, in researchers, and in the research enterprise. Conflicting financial interests that threaten impartial judgment must be appropriately managed to assure continued success of biomedical research”. The Council will rely on our representatives to the House of Delegates, Tony Patterson and Greg Pemberton, to advance our position at the annual meeting. I will keep you advised on the outcome to this important issue and others the Council plans to advance at the annual meeting.

Meanwhile, as earlier mentioned, I enjoyed showing off my city to Council members during our spring meeting in Louisville. Their visit coincided with Derby week, which is a great time to enjoy local cuisine. Of course, because of my love of Kentucky and regional cooking, I introduced the Council to a number of local foods and restaurants devoted to cooking regional dishes. Louisvillians love to entertain during Derby and one staple found at most local Derby parties is Benedictine spread. Benedictine is usually used as a sandwich spread, but can also be used as a dip or spread for crackers.

My family always serves Benedictine sandwiches at celebrations from spring until the end of summer, as it is a perfect warm weather food. My family usually serves it along side of a large platter of pimento sandwiches both spread on thin bread with the crust removed and cut into dainty finger sandwiches.

Benedictine is made with cucumbers and cream cheese and was invented in the 1890s by Jennie Carter Benedict, a caterer and restaurateur in Louisville, Kentucky. One of the most prized possessions a Kentucky cook can have is an original copy of Jennie Benedict’s famous cookbook, The Blue Ribbon Cook Book. My copy is dilapidated and brown with age, but obviously well used by an early Kentucky cook. Luckily, Jennie Benedict’s famous cookbook was recently reprinted by the University of Kentucky Press. Ironically, Ms. Benedict’s recipe for Benedictine was not included in her original cookbook. However, the forward to the reprint includes the recipe.

Benedictine Spread

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons cucumber juice
  • 1 tablespoon onion juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt and a few grains of cayenne pepper
  • 2 drops green food coloring (optional)

To make the juice, peel and grate a cucumber; discard peelings. Wrap the pulp in a clean dish towel and squeeze juice into a dish. Do the same for the onion. Mix all ingredients with a fork until well blended. Note: Using a blender will make the spread too thin.

Benedictine sandwiches are a sign that it is spring in Kentucky. I look forward to enjoying spring in the Bluegrass state with memories of Derby week in Louisville --- it just does not get much better than that.

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