AMA ethics board seeks end to commercial CME sponsorship

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The American Medical Association's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs [CEJA] is calling for an end to almost all commercial support for professional education. 

In a report, CEJA, which makes AMA ethics policy, said physicians and institutions of medicine should not accept commercial support for CME except for narrow technical training on new diagnostic or therapeutic devices and techniques. 

“Individual physicians and institutions of medicine, such as medical schools, teaching hospitals, and professional organizations (including state and medical specialty societies) must not accept industry funding to support professional education activities,” said the CEJA report, titled Industry Support of Professional Education in Medicine. “Exception should be made for technical training when new diagnostic or therapeutic devices and techniques are introduced. Once expertise in the use of previously new devices has developed within the professional community, continuing industry involvement in educating practitioners is no longer warranted.”

Furthermore, CEJA recommended that medical schools and teaching hospitals limit, “to the greatest extent possible,” industry marketing and promotional activities on their campuses while educating trainees “about how to interact with industry and their representatives,” and that the medical profession “identify the most effective modes of instruction and evaluation for physician learners” and obtain more noncommercial funding for professional education. 

The report's recommendations will be taken up by the AMA House of Delegates at its annual meeting, June 14-18 in Chicago.

Critics of the report said CEJA failed to distinguish between certified CME and promotional med ed, wrongly projected continued growth in commercial support and failed to account for how certified CME might be funded, should a $1 billion-plus source of support be disallowed. 

“The report lacks a detailed proposal or plan to ensure that the proposed elimination of $1 billion in certified CME funding would improve the quality of certified CME amid an increasingly complex healthcare environment,” said the North American Association of Medical Education and Communication Companies and the Coalition for Healthcare Communications in a joint statement. “In addition, the report does not address the potential negative consequences of elimination of commercial funding of certified CME, including the probability that elimination of funding would lead to diminished education quantity and quality, which could result in increased healthcare mistakes and misjudgments that actually increase harm to patients.” 

“This measure will drastically effect major constituencies in the AMA House of Delegates, including medical specialty societies and state medical societies,” said Tom Sullivan, president of med ed firm Rockpointe.
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