This post courtesy of Anne Taylor-Vaisey:
The following editorial was published in the September 2004 issue of the Journal of Family Practice:
Susman JL. Commercial sponsorship of CME: There are alternatives. September 2004;53(9):676-677.
Excerpt: Pharmaceutical corporations providing illegal inducements to physicians to use their medications inappropriately off-label. National Institutes of Health researchers securing lucrative consulting contracts, inciting congressional furor. Journals publishing biased articles sponsored by proprietary entities. These headlines have underscored the challenges of commercial sponsorship in medicine.
New, tighter rules for commercial support of continuing medical education (CME) have been promulgated by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), but their effectiveness in safeguarding the public trust continues to engender debate. Many esteemed educators suggest that any commercial role in academe promotes subtle if not outright bias. They say objectivity and fair balance are impossible when a proprietary entity is involved, even at arm s length. Authors or speakers may present data incompletely (if at all), frame data in a biased fashion, or inadequately consider competing interventions. Because studies are open to interpretation, primary data may be difficult to access, and reviews may therefore be limited. Uncovering such bias is often difficult.