S&R Blog

CME regulation: Lets take it back to Woodstock.
August 5, 2009, 5:52 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I was never a hippie or street protester during the 1960s, but something has got me by the neck, and I think it is time to raise a storm of protest to our senators and congressmen. It centers upon the on goings of Senator Chuck Grassley’s Senate panel regarding the pharmaceutical industry’s influence and “control” of CME for physicians.

The basic premise is that CME programs should not accept commercial support (eg, funding from pharma) because it provides undue influence over physicians and their prescribing decisions. In other words, all CME programming would, if the panel has their way, come from doctors and hospitals paying for the costs of such educational programs. For those of you who don’t follow this, we are talking about more than $1 billion of costs, and there is no way that will come from physicians and hospitals.

In essence, what the Senate panel is saying is that physicians, unlike any other group of consumers, are not capable or intelligent enough to gather information from a number of different sources (just as you might when buying a car, TV, phone, or anything else for that matter).

The supposition is that they are unable to gather information from a number of different sources, evaluate that information (all done within ACCME guidelines and regulations) and come to a decision of what they deem best for the patient, hospital, or third-party payer. Imagine that—here are highly educated people that we trust with our lives, and they aren’t smart enough to consider the evidence and determine the best choice.

Now if this sounds totally stupid and you are a bit skeptical of what I might be saying, here is the website link < http://www.policymed.com> where you can in fact read the transcriptions of those panel discussions. Then you can come to your own conclusions about what is going on.

So here is the point: What they are doing is basically undercutting the very foundations of what ACCME accredited providers do on a day-to-day basis. Those providers strictly and closely adhere to the ACCME regulations and guidelines to provide the highest quality education in an unbiased and clinically applicable fashion. If they don’t, guess what—they don’t get reaccredited by the ACCME. After all, is it not the ACCME’s responsibility (rather then the Senate and Congress) to ensure that its certified providers follow the rules?

Here is a suggestion if you agree with my comments and thinking: Please write your Representatives and Senators and ask that they do the following. Ask them to propose legislation that will ban all lobbying efforts and campaign contributions to any state or federally elected official.

If physicians are not smart enough to be able to decipher and decide in light of commercial funding for CME, then surely Representatives and Senators should not be unduly influenced by lobbyist dinners, seminars, trips, or campaign contributions from various industries. What’s fair is fair.

If this is the first volley, I can only imagine what comes next—pharma cannot in any way promote to physicians? Get your hippie gear out, protest, and let’s go back to Woodstock—Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Hells Angels, here we come!

-Dave Recht


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