Senator slaps GSK med ed in letter to ACCME

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The chairman of the Senate Committee on Aging has written the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) complaining that GlaxoSmithKline, which makes Valtrex, “sponsors CME events which promote testing all pregnant women for herpes.”

“However, routine testing for herpes in pregnancy is not recommended by any scientific evidence or any national expert panel,” wrote Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) in a June 20 letter to ACCME chief Murray Kopelow, adding that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the CDC and the US Preventative Services Task Force all reject prenatal testing “due to the dearth of evidence that exists to recommend routine screening and the potential harm to many low-risk women and fetuses from the side effects of antiviral therapy.”

Kohl said he was “troubled by any attempt to persuade physicians to use a drug treatment for any reason other than the patient's condition and the drug's effectiveness in treating it.” He asked ACCME to furnish: a written description of ACCME's accreditation process for CME courses; any criteria ACCME uses as part of that process regarding scientific validity of course content; any mechanisms ACCME has in place to ensure that no undue influence by any industry is being exerted through CME courses; and any further plans ACCME may have in place to develop such mechanisms.

One GSK-sponsored event that Sen. Kohl's letter referred to was a March 22, 2006 webcast entitled “Genital herpes and pregnancy: Prevention and management strategies for healthcare providers,” presented by Medscape for credit through March 22, 2007.
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