European group joins movement to stop industry cash flows to CME

MedTech Europe is the latest group to join the call for an end to industry sponsorship of continuing medical education for physicians.

The main European industry association for the medical device industry last week adopted a new code of ethics that will phase out direct sponsorship of individual healthcare professionals at conferences and other CME programs by 2018, according to cardiology newsletter TCTMD. In the code, MedTech did outline other ways that the companies could continue to support medical education through general education grants or other funding.

It's fairly unusual for medical organizations to disavow CME payments; the American Medical Association for instance, has been one of the staunchest supporters and lobbyists of allowing pharma to fund CME, citing onerous costs to doctors and the potential cutoff of necessary scientific information and education. The National Institutes of Health has also spoken out against any bans. In fact, even other European groups aren't on board: The leading pharma association, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, recently required similar U.S. Sunshine Act reporting, but it still allows direct sponsorship, according to Policy & Medicine.

While the issue--and the argument--over pharma and medical device sponsorship has been going on for years, the more recent Sunshine Act open payment reporting requirements and high profile callouts such as that by late night talk show host John Oliver in February, have turned up the heat on the debate.

In July, a large hotel workers union Unite Here joined the debate, starting a movement against the practice and setting up a web site, www.nomoredrugmoney.org, where people could sign a pledge asking the Accreditation Council for CME "to kick drug money out of CME for good."

- read the TCTMD story
- see Policy & Medicine post

Special Report: Top 10 drug brands by payments to doctors

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