American Psyciatric Association phases out pharma-funded CME

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The American Psychiatric Association will put an end to industry-sponsored continuing medical education and meals served during its annual meetings.

“It's important to differentiate CME from advertising…and promotional medical education,” said Nada Stotland, president of the APA. “There is data to indicate that goodies from pharmaceutical companies influence physicians. We consider [sponsored] presentations and fancy dinners to be goodies.”

The APA hosts the nation's largest meeting for psychiatrists each May, said Stotland, and industry sponsorships for that meeting vary, but usually account for over $1 million.

The plan will considerably reduce industry-sponsored CME and meals in 2009, said Stotland. The APA will eliminate all such sponsorships over the next two or three years, and possibly sooner, she said. 

Accredited CME provides physicians with the credits needed to maintain a valid license according to state law requirements. Concerns over the potential influence or bias inherent in corporate-sponsored CME have prompted some medical schools, including Stanford, the universities of Massachusetts, Pittsburgh, Kansas and others, to ban direct CME sponsorship entirely.

However, a Manhattan Research survey in February found that only 9% of surveyed physicians were opposed to pharma or device manufacturer-funded CME. Just 8% felt that sponsored CME programs they had attended were biased, according to the survey results.

James H. Scully Jr., MD, APA medical director and CEO, cited “a perception” that meals may influence prescribing decisions in that policy change. “While industry-funded meals used to be normal operating procedure at medical meetings, a sea change is currently under way in how we manage industry relationships,” he said. “What was acceptable five years ago isn't necessarily acceptable today.” 
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