Oregonâ€™s Academy of Family Physicians 1,300 members decided to no longer accept pharma supported grants (restricted and non-restricted) for its continuing education programs. And last month, the American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Ethical Judicial Affairs issued a report saying that physician and institutions of medicine should stop the practice altogether.
The idea doesnâ€™t seem to go down very well with the docs, however, according to a poll by Pri-Med, a continuing medical education provider. Out of 268 physicians, they found that 92 percent disagree with the AMA committee’s call to end commercial support of CME. The overwhelming majority said, that among other things, it would make it harder for them to stay up-to-date, which in turn would affect patient care.
Is it possible, too, that the doctors were able to imagine what pharma-free CME would look like, and it didnâ€™t seem all that much fun? After all, where would the speakers come from? How would they be paid? What about the food? And where would the programs be held?
A glimpse is provided by Pharmedout.Org, (www.pharmedout.org) at Georgetownâ€™s Universary Medical Center, Department of Physiology and Biophysics along with the American Medical Student Associationâ€™s (www.pharmfree.org) in their pamphlet â€œHow to Hold Pharma-Free Meetings.â€
When it comes to finding speakers, they suggest using local talent. â€œInvite a physician from another departmentâ€”for example, a surgery department could invite an infectious disease fellow to discuss antibiotics. As for payment? â€œEncourage speakers to forego an honorarium as a gesture of support for pharma-free education.â€ Or invite Federal employees. â€œMany wonderful scientists and physicians are employed by Federal agencies or state or county health departments. But what about the food? The organization suggests brown bagging it, or having potlucks in peopleâ€™s homes. They also offer a guide on how make sandwiches. And finally how to handle all those freebies? Confiscate them, of course. Replace all branded pens, sticky pads, and tote bags and cover the pharmaceutical logos on the items with Pharm-Free logos.
The AMA’s report’s recommendations will be taken up by the AMA House of Delegates at its annual meeting, June 14-18 in Chicago.