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Analyzing the Impact of ACCME Actions

April 25, 2014

Analyzing the Impact of ACCME Actions

Today we are going to talk about the impact of two recent ACCME leadership actions.

Dr. Murray Kopelow's Letter to the editor

The first action was a letter to the editor of JAMA by ACCME Chief Exec Murray Kopelow, in response to a JAMA article that demonstrated some real ignorance about the CME enterprise. The issue at hand is that a group of authors, led by David Rothman, a PhD at Columbia, and JAMA’s editorial board continue to confuse accredited medical education companies with a completely different group of organizations, marketing and communication companies. As a reminder, accredited medical education companies are those that develop unbiased, evidenced-based education for physicians, where as marketing and communications companies work directly on behalf of pharmaceutical, medical device, and other companies to develop advertising and promotional work. In his letter to the editor, Dr Koeplow wrote:
“The claim by Rothman and others that accredited medical education companies are performing marketing services for industry maligns an entire segment of accredited CME providers."
JAMA’s confusion on this issue really is inexcusable. This would be akin to confusing JAMA itself with People Magazine and then claiming as fact that JAMA does not peer-review its own articles. While that statement isn’t true, JAMA’s editorial board in its recent publications demonstrated a real flare for tabloid journalism, and It was really nice to see Dr. Kopelow call them out on that issue.

ACCME Bans Commercial Support Logos

A second action by the ACCME that we’ll talk about is the ACCME's decision to ban corporate supporter logos. At its most recent board meeting the ACCME voted to ban the logos of commercial interests, which are many of the organizations providing CME grants, in educational materials as well as disclosure of commercial support in accredited CME. While it was well intended, the ACCME's decision on logos was really not well thought out, as there could be several unintended consequences. First, this decision might confuse or anger the learners. The purpose of disclosure itself, and providing corporate logos with respect to accredited CME is to improve transparency. Transparency is meant to let the learners know ahead of time that this activity is funded with grant support from a commercial support, and to let the learner decide whether or not he or she wants to attend the CME activity. By taking away that logo, we now may confuse or anger those learners, as they may not know that they are attending a CME activity supported with commercial grant support. The second unintended consequence is possible overall reduced support for CME. The compliance officers at pharmaceutical and medical device companies may take issue with this recent ACCME decision because it in fact decreases transparency in an era where we are all trying to promote transparency, which may cause some confusion or consternation among those compliance officers. In just a short time, the CME community has been able to look at two recent ACCME actions and say thanks for one, the letter to the editor of JAMA, but no thanks to other one, banning corporate logos and harming transparency in the CME enterprise. As always, if you have any questions about CME topics, including the two most recent ACCME decisions, feel free to contact us here at any time. For Global, I'm Stephen Lewis. Have a great day.