Friday, April 10, 2009

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Takes on Pharma CME Funding

This is a few days old now, but the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Susanne Rust and John Fauber did a nice expose on the University of Wisconsin-Madison's sweetheart deals between the continuing medical education (CME) program and drug makers:

The newspaper then added its own opinion calling for stricter guidelines:

There is not much new for regular readers of this blog, but the reporters came up with some pretty blatant cases. Exhibit A was an online course sponsored by UW on smoking cessation. It talked up the drug Chantix as the ideal way to get smokers to quit. The course was bankrolled by Pfizer, Chantix's maker, to the tune of a cool $12.3M, of which UW received $3.5M. Chantix is currently under FDA investigation and is held responsible for 112 deaths since its release in 2006. The online course conveniently leaves out any mention of Chantix's adverse effects. The spokesperson for UW could only come up with the incredibly lame statement that it was all right to leave out these unfriendly facts because "such courses are rarely comprehensive and and designed to meet selected learning objectives."

The fact that UW-Madison has done so little to rein in these excesses is especially sad in light of the Wisconsin medical society's commendably straightforward policy statement on Pharma entanglements, previously posted:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And what's doubly sad is that while UW Madison is considered a leader in the continuing medical education industry, having received the highest level of accreditation status from the ACCME, they have for years operated a unit whose sole purpose was to land these kind of lucrative industry deals. UW is not alone in this as there are numerous academic CME offices who have been engaging in the same practice. All the while the leaders of these academic centers have been advocating (and the fools at Pfizer have already swallowed) the notion that only they are qualified to be the gatekeepers of CME.