Does Pharma Use Common CME Activities to Promote of Off-Label Drug Use?

October 29, 2008 at 6:43 pm Leave a comment

Here is an interesting article published PLoS Medicine describing ways pharma promote off label use of drugs. One author worked in the industry as a physician in medical affairs, supporting marketing and both authors have current contacts within the industry. The authors disclose that unreferenced material in the article “comes from their personal experience, contacts, or information available in public fora such as industry discussions and presentations at trade shows”. Since CME is a forum for discussion of off label uses of drugs this is worth the read for every CME provider. Four of the five techniques purportedly used by pharma to “promote” off label uses of drugs mentioned in the article are activities engaged in by many CME providers. Heads up colleagues.

For a summary of what is said in the article go here. Here are the five techniques pharma are said to use to promote off label uses of drugs:

  • Use of “Key Opinion Leaders”
  • “Publication Strategies” to Generate Influential Publications Whose Industry Origins are Disguise
  • Bleed-Through from Unaccredited “Drug Talks” to Accredited Continuing Medical Education
  • Using Obligations Generated by “Unrestricted Educational Grants”
  • Use of Compendia and Drug Indices

In some areas of medicine off label use of drugs is common and necessary. For many health conditions most patients are taking something off-label. Some of this evidence based information is published in peer-reviewed journals. Off-label uses of approved drugs should be discussed by physicians utilizing the best evidence available. Independent, evidence based CME is an essential place to do this. This is where the new initiative to educate CME faculty in how to separate promotional presentations from those made in accredited CME activities is very important.  The issue is how to have the information presented in a fair and balanced way without undo influence from industry. The question is whether faculty can speak from both perspectives and not be conflicted. Some say yes. Some say no.


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

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