Clar­i­fy­ing some is­sues over commercial sup­port for CME

Modern Healthcare - - COMMENT -

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

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