Panaceia or Hygeia

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AAMC Calls For Strict Limits on Industry Support of Medical Education

Posted by Colin Rose on August 26, 2008

It’s about time!

But I would extend the recommendations to eliminate all industry funding of CME. If doctors can’t pay for their own education who can?

There are many  industry funded chairs at medical schools, like the Novartis Chair at McGill that pays the head of cardiology, that should be eliminated and their endowments returned to the industry donors with interest. Surely, out of the $many millions collected by the cardiology department for various clinical services, McGill can afford to pay a salary to its head.

All online drug funded CME, like this, should also be eliminated.


AAMC Calls For Strict Limits on Industry Support of Medical Education.


Washington, D.C., June 19, 2008-The AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) today urged all medical schools and teaching hospitals to adopt policies that prohibit drug industry gifts and services to physicians, faculty, residents, and students, and to curtail the involvement of industry in continuing medical education activities. The recommendations were part of a new AAMC report, “Industry Funding of Medical Education,” unanimously approved by the association’s Executive Council. In adopting the report, the AAMC’s leadership urged all association members to implement policies and procedures, consistent with the report’s guidelines, by July 1, 2009.

The report was the result of a 14-month effort by an AAMC task force, established in 2006, to examine the benefits and pitfalls associated with industry funding of medical education, and to develop principles, recommendations, and guidelines to help medical schools and teaching hospitals better manage their relationships with industry. The panel was chaired by retired Merck Chairman and CEO Roy Vagelos, M.D., and the vice chair was William Danforth, M.D., former chancellor of Washington University. The task force membership included institutional leaders, faculty, residents, students, CEOs from the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries, ethicists, and public representatives.

“Interactions between industry and academic medicine are vital to public health,” said AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D. “But they must be principled partnerships effectively managed to sustain public trust in both partners’ commitment to patient welfare and the improvement of health care. The recommendations outlined in this report provide essential guidance for how medical schools and teaching hospitals can achieve this important goal.”

Mounting scientific evidence indicates that gifts, favors, and other marketing activities, both explicit and implicit, prejudice independent judgment in unconscious ways. In order to minimize the likelihood of biased decisions by academic physicians, establish an influence-free culture for medical students, residents and other trainees, and optimize the benefits inherent in the principled relationships between medical education and industry, the report proposes that academic medical centers:

  • Establish and implement policies that prohibit the acceptance of any gifts from industry by physicians, faculty, students and residents on- or off-site
  • Eliminate the receipt of drug samples or manage their distribution via a centralized process that ensures timely patient access throughout the health care system
  • Restrict access by pharmaceutical representatives to individual physicians by confining visits to nonpatient areas and holding them by appointment only
  • Set up a central continuing medical education (CME) office to receive and coordinate the distribution of industry support for CME activities
  • Strongly discourage participation by faculty in industry-sponsored speakers’ bureaus
  • Prohibit physicians, residents, and students from allowing presentations of any kind to be ghostwritten by industry representatives.

While all medical schools and teaching hospitals do not yet have strong polices governing their interactions with the drug and device industries, many are working to develop them, and a number of academic medical centers have implemented such policies in the past few years, including University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Stanford University School of Medicine; University of California, Davis, School of Medicine; David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; and Yale University School of Medicine.

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