In 2006, the pharmaceutical industry provided $1.19 billion to sponsor physician continuing medical education (CME) programs in the US ($1.44 billion if you include advertising and exhibits at CME events). See "Online CME Growth is Bad News for Pharma Marketers" for the data.
In the essay "Wither CME?", John Mack (editor of Pharma Marketing News) asked these questions: Why should pharma contribute so much for CME? Doesn't that naturally lead to biased content? Shouldn't there be a ban on commercially-funded accredited CME? Why can't physicians pay for their CME like many other professionals do?
More recently (September, 2008), in a JAMA Commentary, Arnold S. Relman, MD, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, said: "It is time for the leadership of the medical profession to make clear to an increasingly skeptical public that physicians, and not the pharmaceutical industry, are in charge of the education of physicians." Also, in July, 2008, Pfizer announced that it will no longer back CME courses provided by for-profit, third-party companies. It will keep paying for courses offered by med schools, teaching hospitals and medical societies, though.
This survey attempts to get feedback from the Pharma Marketing Network community on the following questions:
- Referring to single-company sponsored CME, do you believe it is strongly biased in favor of the sponsor's product(s)?
- Are ACCME guidelines regarding "firewalls" between the commercial and educational interests of a CME provider are effective in preventing bias in pharma-sponsored CME?
- Should pharma-sponsored CME should be eliminated or greatly reduced and other means found for paying to develop CME (eg, direct payment by physicians, government grants, private foundation grants, etc.)?
- Is industry sponsorship of CME is vital to the improvement of medical outcomes?
- Is the best way for pharmaceutical companies to sponsor CME is through block grants made to medical schools and/or professional societies?
Should those who write promotional materials be excluded from having any role in writing CME content?
Should those who teach in promotional activities be excluded from teaching in independent CME activities?
Recently, Pfizer announced that it will no longer directly fund CME courses provided by for-profit, third-party companies although it will keep paying for courses offered by med schools, teaching hospitals and medical societies. Do you think Pfizer's lead should be followed by other pharmaceutical companies?