Sure. Go Ahead. Ban Pharma Money From CME.

April 28, 2009 at 7:18 pm Leave a comment

Systems react to change often in unintended ways. Change something in one part of a system and another part of the system reacts to compensate. When commercial entities finally decide enough is enough regarding support for CME, you have to know that we, the patients, will pay more for our care to cover the expenses physicians will incur to keep clinically up to date, maintain their specialty certification, and their license to practice medicine, and their hospital privileges, and their etc., etc., etc.

Doctors are constantly influenced by industry in many ways, not just in a CME activity receiving an independent educational grant from a commercial interest. While I don’t see it in my circles, I understand there are still some commercial interests that try to directly influence content in a specific CME activity. The influence these few exert goes beyond merely providing funding in areas of interest to the company – which they have to do to be responsible to their shareholders – but extends to shaping the educational content in ways that position their commercial interests in a more favorable light than that of competitors even in the absence of adequate evidence. That is wrong. And what about the faculty member who goes over the thin line between marketing and independent education? That is far more likely to happen in a specific CME activity than direct pressure from a company to shape the content of a CME activity.

Lest we forget physicians are constantly influenced by industry. It’s called advertising. Advertising in medical journals, detailing, direct mail, or direct to consumer advertising. And what about trade shows at the medical society meetings? Even without being able to give away the trinkets, commercial interests will still be a large presence in those meetings and physicians will visit the exhibit halls. After all that is where the docs find the break food and it is always seems to be at the back of the hall.

Procedures are in place to curb commercial influence in CME. We must use these tools to weed out those who refuse to be bounded by the wisdom the profession has decided to apply to this issue. If this disciplined self policing doesn’t work then get rid of the offenders in CME. Rescind their ACCME accreditation. Commercial interests who refuse to follow the medical professions guidance should be banned from spending a dime on CME under the guise of independent medical education.

Banning commercial support for CME appears to be a moral crusade for some, but at what cost? Ask, “Where the money will come from to allow physicians to have access to CME at a price they think they can afford or are willing to spend? Why me of course. The patient. Priceless.

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

From My “For What It Is Worth Musings” About PI CME Where (How) Can We Make a Difference in the Current CME Environment?

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