Limiting Bias in Commercially Supported CME How Can Bias in Commercially-Sponsored CME Be Limited?
Physicians are required to take Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses to earn credits and maintain their state licenses. Currently, approximately 50% of accredited CME expenses are paid by pharma/medical device companies (see Pharma Support for Accredited CME Continues to Decline). Many critics of pharma-supported CME believe this support leads to “bias;” meaning that information presented at company-supported CME events favors the perspective of the program supporter or predominantly includes clinical data favorable to products of the CME supporter.
Between 9 May 2011 and 13 September 2011, readers of Pharma Marketing News were asked to answer a few short questions relating to potential bias in continuing medical education (CME) programs supported by pharma/medical device companies and how to limit the need for industry funding of CME. The results are summarized below.
- For each of the following CME funding scenarios, please indicate what you believe to be the level of potential bias. “company” = pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturer. (Response ranges: No potential bias, Minimal potential bias, Moderate potential bias, Large potential bias):
- No commercial support (activity is funded entirely by attendee registration)
- Faculty receives NO funding from companies
- Faculty includes members whose research is supported by company grants
- 100% commercially supported by a SINGLE company
- Faculty includes members of company speakers bureaus
- 100% commercially supported by TWO or more companies
- Several suggestions have been put forward to limit the need for commercial support of CME. Please indicate your level of agreement or disagreement with the following suggestions. (Response ranges: Agree Strongly, Agree Somewhat, Disagree Somewhat, Disagree Strongly, No Opinion):
- Convene live CME programs at less expensive locations/venues
- Eliminate free food, coffee, or snacks
- Eliminate printed program/presentations (eg, use online versions)
- Host CME programs via the Internet (eg, webinars)
- Raise registration fees paid by attendees
- The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) is seeking comment on a proposal that would prohibit the use of corporate logos and the mention of corporate divisions in disclosures of commercial support (see See Resources & Further Reading below…). ACCME specifically seeks comment on changing its policy to state: “The provider’s acknowledgment of commercial support as required by SCS 6.3 and 6.4 under Standard 6 of the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support must only state the name of the company supplying the commercial support, in text format only. Disclosure cannot contain corporate logos and cannot mention or describe any other units within the commercial interest’s corporate structure.” Should ACCME adopt this policy?
- Maybe, it depends
- No opinion
- Pharma Support for Accredited CME Continues to Decline
- ACCME Call for Comment: Disclosure of Commercial Support
Issue: Vol. 10, No. 18: December 2011