Tag Archives: continuing education

New CME provider eschews industry money

Medical Marketing & Media‘s Marc Iskowitz profiles a new continuing medical education provider, Lighthouse Learning.

Started by a Harvard neurologist and an executive, both with former ties to CME firm Pri-Med, along with a third partner, Lighthouse Learning receives no funding from pharmaceutical or device companies for the development of its curricula. Instead, the business model relies exclusively on licensing content nationwide, to medical societies, insurers and meetings companies.

Most American physicians are required to earn CME credits to maintain their licenses. These are often industry-sponsored, but while Lighthouse is in the headlines, it’s not alone. Iskowitz again:

Lighthouse’s funding model is not without precedent, though, said Dr. Murray Kopelow, executive director of the Accreditation Council for CME. He told MM&M that 772—or 35% of the 2,225 ACCME-accredited providers submitting data for the 2009 ACCME annual data report—took neither commercial support nor advertising/exhibit income for their educational programs. A total of 943 providers, or 42%, accepted no commercial support. Many of these are providers accredited by state medical societies, and it’s not known whether any of them operate on a national scale, as the council has not analyzed data in this regard.

Notable psychiatry (and COI) blogger Daniel Carlat has taken notice of the new company as well, noting that coverage of its launch shows that conflicts of interest in CME are officially mainstream news.

The Boston Globe broke the story in this article on their front page, which is in itself significant. It means that mainstream journalists understand that the funding of medical education is no longer an arcane topic that is of interest only to a few insiders.

Carlat also provides a little context on one of the company’s founders and his CME past.

ACCME reverses stand on industry presentations

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education has released new guidance that will allow industry scientists to present “product-related research at for-credit talks” as long as “provider controls ensure they have zero control over the content.”

Covering Health readers might remember that John Fauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported on policy changes that would not allow industry representatives to make presentations at the American Health Association’s annual meeting and would likely block them from presentations to other medical associations.

Fauber reports the changes come after the ACCME said that “some accredited providers have an intensive process of peer review that ensures importance, accuracy, and validity and, therefore, the restriction was not needed.”

Marc Iskowitz of Medical Marketing and Media reports that the “guidance means other accredited providers, many of whom have been struggling with the same issue when planning meetings, can include new science that mentions therapeutic options or interventions.”

Drug companies aim to sway docs through classes

Doctors around the country are required to obtain continuing education credits throughout the course of their career. John Fauber and Susanne Rust of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel looked into drug-company funding of continuing education courses that often extol the virtues of a certain company’s pharmaceuticals while neglecting to mention any side-effects.

The drug industry has increased spending on doctor education from $302 million in 1998 to $1.2 billion in 2006, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. It now pays for more than half of all such courses.

“Drug companies have essentially hijacked the highest level of medical education we have in this country,” said (Daniel Carlat, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Tufts University Medical School), who also publishes a monthly continuing medical education psychiatry report that does not accept drug company funding.

The reporters focused on the University of Wisconsin, but found the problem to be widespread.

“What you are seeing in Wisconsin is just another example of what is going on all over the country,” said Arnold Relman, professor emeritus at Harvard Medical School and a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. “It’s unethical, and it is not in the public interest because it is going to bias doctors to use certain drugs.”