Pfizer's new take on med-ed funding

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Pfizer is changing the way it funds medical education to make smarter use of shrinking funding and enhance the impact of activities, the firm said.

The measures are the biggest change to Pfizer grant-making since the firm's 2008 no-MECC policy and its 2007 move toward regional grant management.

The company is dividing education into two tracks. Track One will be RFP-driven and will focus on a smaller group of clinical areas. Until now Pfizer has accepted applications in a largely unsolicited manner.

To get funds, the community must demonstrate real solutions to real educational needs. RFPs, the first of which are expected in the spring, will be awarded for education most expected to impact healthcare quality.

Unsolicited requests for funding of live meetings will be taken through Track Two. Only live US national and regional meetings where new data is being presented will be funded, and Pfizer will cap dollar amounts. The company will no longer accept unsolicited grant requests for enduring or online activities.

An external review board comprising experts in the medical and educational fields will decide on the RFPs, another big change. Pfizer pledged to increase transparency by disclosing the members of the external boards, the answers to RFPs, and the grants it supports.

“There's still a lot left to do,” said Maureen Doyle-Scharff, senior director, team lead, in Pfizer's medical education group, of the changes. “We are still working through a lot of details.”

Some things won't change. Pfizer will still support knowledge-based CE at live meetings in more than 20 clinical areas, and multifaceted projects designed to improve healthcare.

In 2008, the firm announced that it would no longer support accredited CME programs directly through commercial providers, or MECCs. Said a staffer, “The expectation continues that those organizations [responding to an RFP] be not-for-profit.”

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