The North American Association of Medical Education and Communication Companies held a meeting before Wednesday's National Task Force on CME Provider/Industry Collaboration conference sessions, and it was pretty interesting.
They presented results of a member survey NAAMECC conducted recently that dealt with commercial supporter/provider relations. Forty-five percent of respondents said that they occasionally had been asked by a commercial supporter within the past year for a review of CME activity content; 9 percent said it happens often. It's a rare occurence for 27 percent, and 18 percent said they were never asked for a review. Of those who said they were asked, 27 percent said the supporter wanted to review the content for scientific accuracy; 9 percent said they wanted a medical/legal or regulatory review. Thirty-six percent said more than one of these, while 9 percent said it varies by supporter. No one was asked for an overall content review.
It was almost an even split between those who allow a supporter to do a medical/legal or scientific review of CME materials (45 percent), and those who said it depends on the situation (55 percent). None said they allow it only if manufacturers of all related products can review materials, too, or refuse to allow it altogether.
When asked what type of supporter is generally most compliant with separating education from promotion, big pharma got more than half the vote (small pharma, biotech companies, and device companies got no votes), while 45 percent said they are all about the same. When asked who was least compliant, small pharma won with 36 percent of the vote, followed by device companies at 27 percent. Another 36 percent said they were all about the same.
When they asked the crowd in the room if they have a formal review process, more than half said no. Fifty-seven percent said that commercial supporters do request reviews, and 27 percent said the accredited provider requests a review. In joint-sponsored activities, 70 percent of the audience said that accredited providers were responsible for deciding if changes were appropriate, with 27 percent giving that responsibility to the faculty/chair, and just 3 percent to the non-accredited joint sponsor.
The next question made me wonder if reviews might not be a bad idea: When asked if a commercial supporter has found a significant error on data or other content, 32 percent said yes, while 66 percent said no and 2 percent said they didn't allow review. As to why commercial supporters want to review data, 72 percent said it was to ensure that the content adequately reflects the best available data; 14 percent said it was to ensure the data has been adequately reviewed; and 11 percent said it was due to ignorance of independence requirements of FDA and ACCME. Only 3 percent said it was to ensure bias in favor of the grantor, which was good to hear.
What are grantors' greatest fears? Almost a quarter of the audience thougght it was about providers not carefully following ACCME, FDA, and OIG rules; 12 percent said a lack of ability to evaluate the value of programs to the company; and 2 percent each picked bad publicity and a lack of data on advancing patient care. More than half picked the famous "all of the above."
But, as one person said, "These questions are all irrelevant because I have no contact with the grantor. I have no idea what they're thinking. We're talking about collaboration here, and it would be nice to have some communication with scientific, medical, education, and legal, instead of working in a vacuum."