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John Mack, Publisher & Editor It’s All About Education OpEd by John Mack

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I once pitched an online physician education program to the ebusiness group at a major pharmaceutical company. I knew they were the wrong people to be talking to for two reasons: (1) they didn’t have a budget – they were only the gatekeepers for any Internet proposal that walked through the door, and (2) a young manager in the group said to me “Our business is selling drugs, not providing education.”

Blam! Right then and there I realized that pharma companies should not let ceratin people out of their cages and that any hope I had of selling my concept depended more on smoozing the product manager than trying to explain to these Internet gatekeepers that pharma marketing – online or offline – is all about education!

Pharma-Sponsored CME Should pharmaceutical company sales reps be allowed to distribute CME materials such as “monographs, CDs, and Web access” to physicians? Is it appropriate for a drug company to use prescribing data to measure the outcome of a CME program it supports?
Click here to see survey results

Education vs Promotion
CME – Continuing Medical Education – is a case in point. Several speakers at the recent CBI Forum on Continuing Medical Education addressed the issue of the separation of promotion and education in the development and delivery of CME programs.

As one conference speaker suggested, “Promotion should be more educational and education should be more promotional.”

What are the differences between promotion and education? I think three important diff-erences are (1) who controls the content, (2) how do you measure success, and (3) who regulates the activity.

Is it promotion if sales reps distribute CME materials such as “monographs, CDs, and Web access” to physicians? Under the new draft ACCME standards, pharma reps won’t be able to do this.

Educational materials should be part of the typical drug rep’s promotional armamentarium, but the ACCME rule seems to limit the educational role drug reps can play and consign them more and more to “selling drugs.” So much for my sales pitch!

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Issue: Vol. 2, No. 6: June 2003

Word Count: n/a

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