Bid to restrict industry-backed CME rebuffed, again

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A third attempt by an AMA ethics council asking physicians and medical institutions to curb industry funding for professional educational activities was rebuffed yesterday.

The proposals, contained in a report from AMA's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA), would have required CME providers to only accept funds from “sources that have no direct financial interest in a physician's clinical recommendations,” except in certain cases. At the AMA's semi-annual policymaking meeting, its House of Delegates voted to send the entire report back to CEJA for further study.

“The rejection by the House of Delegates shows a commitment to CME funding and academic freedom,” wrote Rockpointe Medical Education president Thomas Sullivan in the blog Policy and Medicine. “The AMA members are not willing to give up their rights to collaborate with industry and give up commercial support of CME especially in these tough economic times.”

At a committee meeting prior to the vote, 25 speakers representing 24 organizations spoke against adoption of the CEJA recommendations, according to Sullivan, while in favor were 10 speakers representing CEJA, the AMA's Council on Medical Education and other organizations.

The last time delegates sent a CEJA proposal back to committee was in June. That proposal sought to delineate “ethically preferable” or “ethically permissible” CME funding practices. A 2008 proposal—also shelved—had called for an all-out ban on commercial support.

In a statement, AMA board chair Dr. Rebecca Patchin said CEJA “will re-examine the issue and present a revised report at a later meeting,” adding that AMA “already has existing ethical policy to govern physician relationships with the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industry.”
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