AMA ethics group rethinks CME funding

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A pair of American Medical Association committee reports urges that industry-funded CME be put on a tighter leash, but they're a far cry from the ban on commercial support called for by the AMA's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs a year ago.

In a report titled “Financial Relationships with  Industry in Continuing Medical Education,” the AMA's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) deemed it “ethically preferable” that CME providers accept funding only from non-commercial sources, but “ethically permissible” that they accept industry support, provided that standards meant to deter bias are met.

It's a steep climb-down from CEJA's May 2008 recommendation to the AMA House of Delegates that 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. That recommendation was tabled at the AMA's annual convention last year.

The CEJA report issued earlier this week says it is “ethically permissible” for CME providers to accept commercial support provided that: educational activity is “based on needs identified independent of and prior to solicitation or acceptance of the funding;” funding is unrestricted; the source of funding is clearly disclosed and the provider “is not overly reliant on funding from industry sources.” Individuals with “modest financial interests” may be involved provided that “the nature and magnitude of those interests are disclosed” and “steps are taken” to mitigate bias. “Uniquely qualified experts” with more significant interests are permissible in rare cases, CEJA said, where “compelling need for the specific CME activity in the professional community cannot otherwise be met.”

AMA's Council on Medical Education issued a second report piggybacking on CEJA's delineating more specifically the conditions for “ethically preferable” and “ethically permissible” CME.

The recommendations will be submitted to the AMA's House of Delegates for adoption at the group's annual convention, being held June 13-17 in Chicago.
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