Clarifying some issues over commercial support for CME
Reporter Jaimy Lee wrote a very balanced article in the June 30 issue (“CME Shelter,” p. 16) in which she accurately laid out some of the battle lines surrounding the merits of commercial support for accredited continuing medical education. While most patients and their doctors appreciate the vitally important role CME plays in offering healthcare providers independently verified, scientifically based information regarding the latest in diagnosis and treatment, some in academia continue to chafe at the fact that much of this life-saving information might never make it to the bedside but for the indirect financial support of drug and device manufacturers.
As the article suggests, it stands to reason that drugmakers are more likely to offer educational grants in therapeutic areas where the company has made a research commitment. But to jump to the conclusion that patients are better off if their doctors go without CME because of a theoretical concern for the donor company’s profit motive is to ignore the best interests of the patient.
I’d also like to correct a misperception inadvertently perpetuated by the article that “there have been cases that have raised questions about the integrity of CME.” The example chosen was not an indictment of an accredited CME program, but rather a pharmaceutical marketing program that inaccurately claimed to be a CME program. The CME Coalition was unable to find any examples from the past 10 years where an accredited CME program was found to have run afoul of the strict anti-conflict-of-interest provisions of the nation’s recognized accrediting bodies. Accredited CME has demonstrated an exemplary record of ethical compliance.
Also, the article cites a JAMA study from last December that we believe grossly overstated the amount of money spent on CME by pharmaceutical manufacturers in 2010, and that inaccurately blended the definitions of accredited CME provider companies with medical communications companies, many of which engage in branding and promotion activities. Although the author had no way of knowing this, we are in discussions with JAMA regarding our concerns.
Andrew Rosenberg Senior adviser CME Coalition Washington