A policy intended to reduce conflicts of interest in continuing medical education will take effect at the American Heart Association’s annual Scientific Sessions in November: Pharmaceutical industry employees will not be allowed to make medical education presentations at the event.
John Fauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the change comes as the result of “a relatively new interpretation on a policy of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, the national body that accredits medical education courses.” Such presentations can be used to boost the marketing of new drugs, according to James Stein, a cardiologist and professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
The policy came up at a meeting at the National Institutes of Health last week, where Keith Yamamoto, executive vice dean of the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, called it “bloodcurdling.”
Fauber quotes people on both sides of the issue, including a former editors of JAMA and NEJM, as well as critics of industry funding of medical education.
Clyde W. Yancy, M.D., president of the AHA, was at the NIH meeting and expressed “consternation” about the policy and was hoping to get support from others in the room to appeal the ACCME’s decision. He points out that the AHA’s event is the first major medical meeting at which these policies will be in place but that other organizations will have to deal with the changes to remain accredited by the ACCME.
Video of the meeting is online and the relevant proceedings start at about the 108 minute mark. It’s well worth watching to see the reactions in the room.