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CME Courses with No Industry Bias…Brought to you by Pfizer

In 2008, Stanford University became the first medical school to restrict industry financing for specific CME courses.  Today, Stanford announced a new “model for the continuing education of physicians that aims to improve patient care while ensuring that corporate donors do not exert influence over the curriculum.”  This new model is being funded by a $3 million grant by — ironically — Pfizer.

According to a statement by the university, the Pfizer grant comes with no conditions, and the company will not be involved in developing the curriculum.  The new curriculum is being designed by a group of physicians at Stanford who have a special interest in new educational approaches. It will focus on interactive methods, rather than the traditional CME method of passive, lecture-based courses, as studies have shown interactive learning is a far more effective way for improving physician practice.

Can industry support a program designed to remove industry-influence?  Stanford says yes.  And to prove their point, Stanford has pledged the bold step of holding these CME courses on their campus as opposed to hotels and resorts.

Today’s New York Times includes comments from several docs with conflicting opinions.  David J. Rothman, a professor and president of the Center on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia, says “It’s fair to say Stanford is once again leading the pack.”  While Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, a Georgetown University medical professor who has researched and written about industry influence in continuing medical education. “Pfizer’s interest in better ways to manipulate physicians is well-known.”

One comment

  1. I ran the CME office at a midwestern med school for almost 20 years until 2003. We did this all the time with several companies — while our CME colleagues claimed it couldn’t be done for various reasons. Plenty of companies attempted to buy us as a front for marketing, but we refused and simply focused on those willing to provide unconditional support. If their products worked and had good research behind them, they had no problem. The only thing that’s new about this is that medical school leaders are finally admitting that the usual alternatives are corrupt and unacceptable.

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