ACCME punts on proposed logo ban

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Corporate logos may still appear in CME commercial support disclosures, ACCME said, after a majority of respondents expressed disapproval of its proposal to ban them.

A call for comment on the proposal closed June 6 and drew 64 responses: 18 (28%) supportive, 25 (39%) opposed, 19 (30%) mixed and 2 (3%) other. They were reviewed at a July board meeting.

“The Board decided that it would defer action to implement the proposed policy, and will study the issue further, deliberate about the issues and views raised by respondents, and engage in discussions with the CME community,” ACCME said.

That means, at least for now, that the group is sticking with current policy. ACCME's Standards for Commercial Support require providers to disclose funding sources to learners. Company logos, along with slogans and references to a grantor's med-ed division, are okay as long as they are not “product promotional in nature.”

A majority, or 25 views, disagreed with the ACCME proposal that providers state the name of the commercial supporter in text format only. ACCME had said that that could “strengthen the firewall between CME and promotion.”

Psychiatrist and blogger Daniel Carlat, who had taken issue with the proposal on the grounds that it could have the opposite effect, burying disclosures in the fine print, called for nothing less than “in-your-face” transparency.

“If anything, ACCME should adopt a policy requiring providers to make the name of commercial supporters more prominent,” he said by email. “I should not have to go on a scavenger hunt to figure out who the commercial supporter is.”

The supporter's name should be at the beginning of every activity, as well as the names of specific drugs or devices marketed by the company that might be relevant to the content, said Carlat. That way learners can be on the lookout for content that is promotional.

Siding with Carlat, at least in opposing the policy change, was Eli Lilly. Eliminating the logos, the pharmaceutical company noted in comments (available here), "will simply cast a shadow on sources of commercial support, rather than illuminate them."

Logos, Lilly added, "provide an important visual alternative" that the CME program has received industry backing. "A text-only identifier seems far more likely to be overlooked."

PhRMA, the trade group, weighed in on similar grounds.

Among the 18 advocating freedom from logos was the California Medical Association and the Institute for Medical Quality, which called itself the largest state medical society accrediting CME programs. Some logos, the society wrote, are "by design, promotional." Since it would be hard for CME providers to differentiate when a design or name may be too promotional, "better to ban their use and just require the corporate name to appear in text format only."

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