Pharma-free CME gets sharp response

ACCME was surprised by the vociferous response to its June 11 call for comment on several proposals, including one that would establish a "pharma-free" label for accredited CME and another that would designate activities to be free of teachers or authors that did promotional work. Also included was a proposal to establish an independent funding mechanism for CME. 

They were diverse, they covered a wide range of opinion," said ACCME chief executive Murray Kopelow, MD.

In its response, the Society for Academic Continuing Medical Education (SACME) said a survey of its members found 76% opposed the creation of a commercial support free designation and 66% opposed the promotional teacher/author free label. "There should be one standard for CME accreditation," said SACME. "Creating a system where there are two categories has the potential to create the impression that commercially-supported CME is somehow inferior to that receiving no commercial support. As such, it would then inappropriately imply that commercially-supported CME is biased."

"Three-quarters of our membership felt that this wasn't a good idea, and I think for many, it sets up an inherent dynamic that says one is more preferable to another," said Lois Colburn, president of SACME and executive director at the University of Nebraska Medical Center's continuing education program.

On promotional teacher and author-free CME, Kopelow said: "The CME system feels strongly that the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support manage the boundary issues between commercial supporters and the CME industry, that they've been doing it for two decades, that they...should continue to do it and that it's up to the accredited providers to meet the expectations of the Standards for Commercial Support and it's up to the ACCME to monitor those boundaries. It was clear those people believe that should be what happens in the future."

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