ACCME addresses conflict of interest

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Peer-reviewed continuing medical education may become standard under a guidance issued this week that was welcomed by CME providers.
The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) suggested peer reviews as a means of resolving potential conflicts of interest by physicians presenting CME that contained information on drugs made by companies from which they have accepted honoraria. The prompt came in a supplement to the revised Standards for Commercial Support, which advised: "'Peer review' of CME is often already in place and is a mechanism to resolve conflict of interest." Additionally, the provider must ensure that CME references the "best available evidence," the ACCME said in an Oct. 20 document entitled, "Additional Questions and Answers regarding the Updated 2004 Standards for Commercial Support."
CME providers and supporters were alarmed by a previous backgrounder issued by the ACCME, which many interpreted as indicating that faculty with potential conflicts of interest could not discuss their own clinical experience and would be limited to reciting previously published research data. Such a restriction would have driven many of the best CME speakers from the stage, said providers. 
"These two processes provide a roadmap that will allow for the development of policies that will meet the objectives of ACCME while including individuals that may have conflicts," said Marty Cearnal, chief strategy officer for Thomson Medical Education and an early proponent of peer reviews as a means of resolving potential conflicts.
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