Drug makers shore up their guard in wake of ACCME rules

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Novartis and Wyeth executives say they are taking a hard look at CME grant applications as the industry absorbs new guidelines for commercial support from the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).
At a CME industry forum Wednesday in Philadelphia, organized by the Healthcare Marketing & Communications (HMC) Council, Novartis' Marty Putenis voiced concern over a resolution the ACCME standards that provides for removing a CME speaker because his or her commercial interest relates to the course content.
"The resolution should match the degree of conflict," said Putenis, executive director, healthcare compliance, adding that this is not necessarily the view of Novartis. "It strikes me as draconian to put a gag order on a pharmaceutical company if they have legitimate contributions to an issue."
ACCME, in a subsequent clarification, has suggested other resolutions that preserve speaker participation, like review of CME content by commercially disinterested peers. Putenis said medical-education firms accepting Novartis money must subject peer review and disclose
how financially dependent they are on Novartis.
Wyeth has formed a department to administer the CME grant process, said Anthony Iacono, assistant vice president, marketing and sales support.
"Providers, faculty, [medical education and communication companies] and supporters are wise to take every precaution necessary to ensure the integrity of independent education," he advised. Iacono predicted longer review times for grants. Eric Peterson, president of the North American Association of Medical Education and Communication Companies (NAAMECC), said resolution of conflicts of interest has not spelled major trouble for his
members. "The faculty pool put that to rest," he said.
But Wyeth's Iacono concluded, "It's not a certainty that a grant will be approved."
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