Monday, July 19, 2010

Another CME World

For argument’s sake, let’s say there is bias in CME and industry will no longer continue funding ongoing training for physicians – in real life, that’s what will be happening at the University of Michigan Medical School.

So let’s imagine a world without industry-sponsored CME.

Let’s say that money isn’t a problem. Let’s say that doctors will ante up and fund their ongoing education, either through their society dues or directly out of their own pockets.

Now let’s talk about the content of those courses. Where is the content going to come from? Certainly researchers and physicians from various schools will want to talk about what’s going on in their labs and clinics, but what about what the medications? In this country, industry develops drugs. In this country, smaller universities and the federal government do much of the basic research, and through licensing deals industry takes it from there.

Developing the information around new therapies, existing therapies and new product extensions are the roles of the drug manufacturer. They were at one time perceived to have most of the knowledge on drug therapy and devices that improved certain diseases.

One of the things that gnaws at us the most about this whole transparency dust-up: It doesn't seem that the purists have offered alternatives to filling the void of education on innovative drug therapies. What’s in place now, is known to have inherent bias, because health care professionals are naturally skeptical. Doctors need continuing education to stay clinically sharp– we as patients want them to have the most up-to-date information  because they will not stay on top of this information unless the continuing education comes to them. Have you looked at Pub Med lately? It’s impossible to keep up.

Industry and clinicians have been working together for years. Making the relationship transparent -- and yes, we agree it should be -- must be done with respect and dignity. Let's figure a way to find solutions to educate physicians about drug therapy.  Otherwise, we believe patient care could be impacted.  And that would not be good.

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