GlaxoSmithKline is taking another step back from the drugmaker influence game. The company won't fund commercial CME programs anymore. Instead, starting next year, it will back only medical education provided by academic medical centers and their affiliated teaching hospitals, and by "national-level" professional medical associations.
"GSK will not support as many medical education programs, but we will continue funding those with the greatest potential to improve patient health," said Deirdre Connelly, Glaxo's President North America Pharmaceuticals. The company will invite grant applications from 20 education providers that match the above descriptions. It will choose programs that do the most to close "clinical gaps" in patient care, according to a company statement. And all the grants will be posted on the Glaxo website.
Drug company funding of everything from meals for doctors to CME has been under scrutiny over the past year or so, especially after some big-time doctors and researchers were shown to have tens of thousands in unreported income from pharma. There's been a movement in Congress to mandate disclosure of various industry payments to docs and institutions, and in a pre-emptive wave, one drugmaker after another has begun posting information about its financial relationships.
Glaxo was one of those drugmakers; it has been posting information about its educational and charitable grants in the U.S. since February, and it promises to release by year's end its first roster of speaking and consulting fees paid to doctors. Other disclosures will begin in 2010.