Supporters snub generic CME fund

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Medical societies and other providers have been under assault the last few years for the way they handle commercial funds for med ed. Critics have said pooled funds would be more prudent, but industry told one society exploring this approach that it wouldn't fly.
Last month at ExL's Support for Independent Medical Education conference, executives from the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) proposed setting up a corporate education fund (CEF) to take aggregated contributions.
The fund “would refute the perception that any direct funding of an educational activity is tainted no matter what steps you take,” said AGA senior vice president Dr. Michael Stolar, whose inspiration was Stanford University School of Medicine's $3-million, three-year grant from Pfizer that is administered by Stanford faculty (never mind that areas of therapeutic focus were predetermined).
He said a generic fund would counter criticism that organizations' offerings are skewed toward what money is available. If required, though, AGA would guarantee companies to produce one program in a therapeutic area of interest to the supporter. Reaction among the crowd of mostly pharma company supporters was mixed: by show of hands, one attendee thought the idea was great, 10 great but unrealistic, and three “Are you nuts?”
That's understandable. The generic fund would eliminate time spent preparing and reviewing funding proposals, which MECCs and grantors do now, not to mention well-entrenched grant review systems.
The pooled funding concept has appeared several times, including in 2006 and 2009 articles in Journal of the American Medical Association and in 2007 within a set of recommendations from the Macy Foundation.
Stolar said he is drafting a memo to the AGA's board for it to formally consider. Does he think AGA will follow through? “I would be surprised if we do.”
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