Bias in CME activites? Who is Responsible?

July 8, 2008 at 2:07 am Leave a comment

There has been a significant amount of concern from various public and private groups surrounding the real or perceived issue of commercial bias or influence in the content and delivery of CME activities supported by commercial interests. Bias is defined as “a partiality that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation”. A recent review of literature commissioned and funded by the ACCME, suggests that the empirical data to support the concern of bias in approved CME activities is virtually non existent , especially when you look at the outcomes of commercially supported CME on patient outcomes. The findings from the review do not support any conclusion stating that commercially supported CME activities are inherently biased. (You might be interested in a podcast I did with the lead author of the review that amplifies this point.) It simply shows there are no data to support that claim. There may or may not be bias in commercially supported CME activities. The point is that no current empirical data exits to support or refute the claim.

ACCME accredited providers have been operating under a set of Standards of Commercial Support for some time. I have heard from a number of people in industry that they support these standards. It is the responsibility of the accredited CME provider to address the issue of real or perceived bias in an approved CME activity and to take necessary actions to see that the content provided in the activity is not biased or unduly influenced by any narrow commercial interest. The current ACCME guidelines preclude any interference by a commercial interest in the content of a funded activity. So, if there is bias in an activity approved for CME credit, the responsibility for that bias creeping into an approved CME activity lays at the feet of the CME provider not the commercial supporter.

Accredited providers of CME activities need to step up to the plate and take part of the responsibility for the current situation that has government agencies, education organizations, and the consumer concerned about bias in the continuing professional development of physicians in this country. We were given the responsibility to see that it didn’t happen. Most of us are diligent in our responsibility. Some are not. Those who are not need to be censored by the ACCME or banned from the CME enterprise.

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Entry filed under: CME, CME Issues, Continung Professional Development, Pharma Funding, Physician Continuing Education.

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