A Call for Pharmaceutical Industry Disclosure of Charitable and Educational Donations: Home

Pharmaceutical Industry Donations & Continuing Medical Education
Pharmaceutical Industry Donations & Policy Think Tanks and Advocacy Groups
Pharmaceutical Industry Support for Patient Groups/Promotion of Prescription Drugs
Pharmaceutical Industry Donations & Charitable Conduits to Doctors
Pharmaceutical Industry Donations & Influencing Prescribing Guidelines

Pharmaceutical Industry Disclosure Practices

Pharmaceutical Industry Donations and
Continuing Medical Education

Boston Globe: Psychiatry Funding Questioned

by Liz Kowalczyk (May 14, 2005)

In 2004 the renowned psychiatry department at Harvard Medical School's teaching hospital for the first time accepted money from a pharmaceutical companies for its continuing medical education (CME) program. The move is very controversial even though the department said it developed ways to minimize the risk that drug company money could bias classroom instruction because critics say pharma can still set the overall agenda in CME by funding programs that primarily focus on profitable activities such as treatment with brand-name drugs.

Philadelphia Inquirer: When doctors learn, drug firms often pay the tab
by Fawn Vrazo (June 8, 2005)

Rules instituted in recent years by a variety of bodies meant to limit the influence of the pharmaceutical industry over the content of the continuing medical education (CME) has not dimmed their interest in financing these events. The rules have reduced the visibility of the industry's involvement, but critics argue drug companies would not provide so much money for these events if it didn't impact sales, a claim that pharmaceutical representatives admit while at the same time arguing that their involvement also improves patient care.

Chicago Tribune: Drug makers foot bill for UIC doctors' Italy junket
by Robert Becker and Bruce Japsen (April 16, 2005)

Lavish pharmaceutical industry-sponsored University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) medical symposia on transplant surgery held in Italy in 2002 and 2004 highlight the controversy surrounding corporate sponsorship of the continuing medical education of physicians. Critics contend that this growing practice influences doctors' prescribing behavior while those such as UIC conference organizer Dr. Enrico Benedetti indicate that these important medical meetings could not take place without industry support.

Boston Globe, Op-ed: Doctors and Drug Companies
by Jerome Kassirer (July 6, 2005)

Drug companies spend billions of dollars each year on educational programs for doctors in the form of "unrestricted educational grants." The companies swear that in supporting physicians' meals, meetings and events, all they care about is education doctors, but the U.S. Senate is now asking how much of the content of these programs is education and how much is product marketing.

Medical Marketing & Media: Beyond the firewalls
by Marc Iskowitz (August 1, 2005)

Pharmaceutical companies have rewritten the rules for supporting medical education in response to mandates demanding content is insulated from marketing influence. Meanwhile, providers are reporting mixed experiences dealing with a bevy of complex funding systems.

USA Today: Who's teaching the doctors? Drug firms sponsor required courses - and see their sales rise
by Dan Vergano (March 9, 2000)

Regulations will soon go into effect that promise higher standards of separation between corporations that provide grants and the faculty of required continuing medical education (CME) courses, but critics say they are weak and unenforceable. At the same time, other attempts to change these practices have been rebuffed, even as the number of commercial providers has increased.

Clinical Psychiatry News: Drug companies' influence in psychiatry pervasive, experts say
by Timothy Kirn (July 1, 2006)

In presentation to the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association two psychiatrists warned that their colleagues should be very concerned about the influence pharmaceutical industry in their field, and medicine as a whole. They presented a study that showed that despite last year's decision by the American Academy of Continuing Medical Education (CME) to strengthen rules governing industry support for CME, industry continues to increase its investment in this area and materials continue to make few unfavorable statements about sponsoring companys' drugs.

Cardiovascular Device Liability Week: Duke University: State-required continuing medical education does not affect heart attack care
(April 4, 2004)

In the first such analysis, Duke University Medical Center researchers have found that state-mandated programs for continuing medical education (CME) for physicians have little impact in improving outcomes for heart attack patients or in increasing the use of therapies proved effective by clinical trials. They also found that heat attack patients in states requiring CME were much more likely to receive treatments that were manufactured by drug companies that often sponsor CME events.

The Boston Globe: Hospital, Drug Firm Relations Probed
by Liz Kowalczyk (June 29, 2003)

Federal investigators are sending subpoenas to top academic medical centers in Boston and elsewhere in the country for records about their relationships with drug makers as part of a widespread crackdown on pharmaceutical company marketing practices, according to several attorneys who represent hospitals and drug companies. Federal prosecutors are looking into whether drug companies have been using grants given to hospitals and their doctors for continuing medical education (CME) in attempts to influence prescribing patterns of doctors at those hospitals.

The Oregonian: Now, a word from our sponsors
(June 30, 2003)

Drug makers have shifted their focus from providing free samples, medical conferences in exotic locales, and taking doctors to sporting events to sponsoring events that provide for doctors' continuing medical education (CME). But when pharmaceutical companies foot the bill for CME, objectivity is suspect.

Virtual Mentor: "This may sting a bit": cutting CME's ties to pharma

by Adrian Fugh-Berman and Sharon Batt (2006; 8:412-415)

The authors argue that Continuing Medical Education (CME) activities should only qualify as education if these events receive no funding from the pharmaceutical industry. Less radical reforms such as the pooled donor approach would merely be a cosmetic attempt at dealing with the conflicts of interest inherent in an education system funded by industry because it continues the practice of having a third party whose profits are directly related to prescribing behavior control medical education.
control medical education.

Lancet Editorial: Drug company influence on medical education in USA
(September 2, 2000)

The growing trend of pharmaceutical industry financing of Continuing Medical Education (CME) is an insidious practice that evidence shows ultimately influences medical decision-making and practice in a way that benefits pharma's bottom line. The Lancet's editorial staff argues that physicians should follow the example of other professions and pay for their own CME in order to ensure the integrity of the process of learning in medicine.

The Hastings Center Report: Pharma goes to the laundry: public relations and the business of medical education
by Carl Elliott (September 1, 2004)

A detailed look at the process by which the pharmaceutical industry's public relations machine, by employing its "third party" strategy, has shaped the many forms of Continuing Medical Education (CME) to serve its own interests, to the detriment of patients. The threat to patients is illustrated through the example of Wyeth's successful "medical education" campaign to promote its diet drug Fen-Phen, a drug which Wyeth's own data showed was not very effective and that was ultimately linked to serious illness in 45,000 patients and the deaths of hundreds.

Canadian Medical Association Journal: CME and the pharmaceutical industry: two worlds, three views, four steps
by David A. Davis (July 20, 2004; 171 (2) 149)

The author proposes four action items as a first step towards creating appropriate boundaries between the pharmaceutical industry and medical schools and more broadly between industry and Continuing Medical Education (CME) in Canada. They are providing physicians better education in the areas of critical appraisal and ethical decision-making, broadening the definition of the full disclosure to include the full amount of industry contributions to CME programming in addition to industry connections, the diversification of funding for CME through greater government and professional support, and developing enforceable national guidelines.

Clinical Diabetes: Continuing Medical Education in Diabetes: The Impending Crisis
by Steven B. Leichter (22:174-177, 2004)

The close interaction between pharmaceutical companies and the power that govern much of the available continuing medical education (CME) for doctors is a growing quandary in the United States today. These issues are also very important in diabetes care, especially as the market for diabetes-related products care continues to grow.

Pharmaceutical Industry Donations & Continuing Medical Education
Pharmaceutical Industry Donations & Policy Think Tanks and Advocacy Groups
Pharmaceutical Industry Support for Patient Groups/Promotion of Prescription Drugs
Pharmaceutical Industry Donations & Charitable Conduits to Doctors
Pharmaceutical Industry Donations & Influencing Prescribing Guidelines

Pharmaceutical Industry Disclosure Practices