A physician survey by the pro-commercial CME group CME Coalition found that docs are reconsidering their participation in industry-sponsored CME, fearful that their inclusion in Sunshine Act databases as having received payments from companies will tarnish their reputations and fuel perceptions of conflicts of interest.

Asked if “attendance at a commercially-supported CME event was reported in a public, online government database as a ‘payment ‘ from the corporate supporter, would this affect your decision to attend CME courses?” three quarters of respondents said it would weigh on them at least “Somewhat,” and 47% answered “To a great extent.” Another 47% said the new disclosure requirements would affect their decision to participate as a panelist or presenter “To a great extent.” Two-thirds of the physicians surveyed said healthcare companies should be encouraged to support accredited CME through grants “To a great extent.”

The CME Coalition polled 515 physicians across the US. Ninety-four percent of those physicians had attended accredited CME events in the past year, and over half had attended four or more events. Two-thirds said CME was “Very important” in keeping up with clinical developments.

The Sunshine Act, a sweeping law aimed at promoting transparency in physician-industry relationships through mandated disclosures, was folded into the massive Affordable Care Act, which passed in March 2010. The Sunshine Act portions of the law have not yet gone into effect, as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), responsible for implementing the law, has repeatedly put off nailing down the details while it works on other portions of the ACA. These delays were the subject of a roundtable convened yesterday by one of the Sunshine Act’s authors, Senate Committee on Aging chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI), in which CMS was harangued by Senators for putting the law on the back burner. CMS director of policy and data analysis Niall Brennan told the panel that CMS was “hopeful” to begin data collection sometime next year.  

“All of the stakeholders—consumer and industry groups together—want a fair rule and want it implemented now,” Sen. Kohl said in a statement.