Few doctors believe commercial support for CME should be eliminated, although a clear majority think corporate funding increases bias, according to a survey published in Archives of Internal Medicine.
In 2009, the latest year for which data are available, industry grants funded 39% of the CME industry, vs. 56% in 2008. Drug companies and device makers gave $856 million to certified CME, a 17% slide vs. 2008.
To find out whether this level of commercial support introduces bias, researchers from the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine polled learners at live courses delivered by the International AIDS Society-USA, which takes industry funding. Of 770 doctors, most (88%) said they believed that commercial support introduces bias, with greater amounts of support upping the risk of impartiality. But, when asked whether they would be willing to accept higher registration fees to decrease the need for such funding, 42% said they were . Only 15% supported complete removal of commercial support.
Physicians spend about $1,400 a year on CME, according to the AIM report, and that would increase to $3,500 without industry grants.
Lead researcher Dr. Jeffrey Tabas, who also helps oversee the university's CME, told Reuters Health that most physicians probably believe the extent of industry bias is fairly limited and, thus, are not willing to pay more to reduce it.