Few teaching hospitals set limits on industry payments
A few academic medical centers have set strict policies to prevent drug and device manufacturers from paying physicians and potentially influencing their teaching and medical decisionmaking. But most teaching hospitals and medical schools continue to receive funding from drug and device companies for CME and other types of programs.
The Association of American Medical Colleges, Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Medical Student Association have called for tougher policies that reduce industry influence over healthcare providers. In September under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, manufacturers will begin reporting payments they make to teaching hospitals as well as physicians.
Accredited continuing medical education is one spending category that has come under scrutiny. Some academic medical centers have restricted industry support for CME or require industry funding to go through a central repository. But that level of restriction is rare, said Dr. Daniel Carlat, director of the Prescription Project at Pew Charitable Trusts.
The University of Michigan Medical School in 2010 announced that it would no longer accept funding for CME from drug and device companies. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York banned CME payments from the industry in 2008.
“That has happened here and there, but it’s not standard operating procedure at medical centers yet,” Carlat says.
Medical schools received about $390 million in CME funding in 2012 from all sources, not only industry, while teaching hospitals accepted about $208 million, according to the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education. Overall spending on CME that year was about $2.4 billion.
While there has been some disclosure showing some CME payments made by the industry, there has been little transparency about overall payments made by drug and device companies to teaching hospitals. The publication of the CMS’ Open Payments database in September will be the first look into those payments.
Many teaching hospitals “receive millions of dollars every year from companies to run CME programs, but the specifics of that information have been in the dark for the most part,” Carlat said. “Before the Sunshine Act, there was no good way of tracking that money.”