June 01, 2006
Attorney blasts Grassley's CME probe
There's “a certain amount of hypocrisy” in Sen. Chuck Grassley's current probe of drug company involvement in CME programs, writes industry attorney Jeffrey N. Gibbs (Hyman, Phelps & McNamara) in a Washington Legal Foundation legal backgrounder.
The Iowa Republican's Senate Finance Committee, composed of lawmakers who, like most
others on Capitol Hill, receive money from lobbyists, “seem concerned that [CME] speakers might be influenced by a purely internal function performed by [drug company] marketing staff,” Gibbs writes.
He cites a Jan. 9 Grassley letter to drug companies that stated “[I]t appears that many manufacturers' sales and/or marketing personnel still have a role in originating or evaluating grant requests, and, consequently, the potential for abuse remains.”
The letter's assertion “makes little or no sense,” Gibbs said. “Sponsors routinely review proposals for CME support from a variety of perspectives. … It is unrealistic to expect companies to expend significant sums on programs which may be educationally worthwhile but bear no relationship…to the company's business objectives.
“More important,” Gibbs said, “the participation of marketing personnel in a proposal in no way diminishes the independence of the program.”