Industry support of CME declines 17%

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Total commercial support of accredited CME fell 17% to $856 million in 2009, according to ACCME's annual report—marking its second straight year of double-digit declines on a percentage basis.

For 2007, ACCME data showed commercial support increasing 1%. Sandwiched between 2008, when industry grants slid 14% to $1 billion, and a decade of sizable gains before it, 2007 proved to be the peak. The 2009 total also marks the first time since 2003 that industry funding dipped below $1 billion.

The number of physicians and non-physicians participating in CME stayed fairly flat in 2009, rising just 1% and 3%, respectively. The steady attendance figures—10.7 million doctors and 6.8 million non-physicians—proved to be a lone bright spot.

Total income reported by accredited providers fell 7.6% to $2.2 billion, while total expenses also decreased 11.9% to $1.7 billion. Providers actually faced higher fees and administrative work last year as they incorporated new transparency and measurement policies. The lower expenses could partly reflect attrition among ACCME-accredited providers: there are now 707 vs. 725 in 2008.

The number of certified CME activities and the number of hours of CME logged were also down in 2009, with activities declining 5.8% to 95,062 and hours plunging 10.4% to 689,768.

Industry grants, now accounting for 39% of total CME income vs. 56% in 2008, have taken a hit due to overall budget cuts by drug and device companies and the extreme scrutiny placed on industry-supported CME due to perceived bias.

Those hardest hit by the decline in commercial support were professional associations, which saw total income fall nearly 25%, followed by MECCs, which experienced a 21% drop.

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