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Pharma logos in CME Materials: Transparency or Advertising?

Pharma logos in CME Materials: Transparency or Advertising?

The CME Coalition, a Washington, D.C.–based lobbying group that advocates for continuing medical education, recently launched a voluntary code of conduct for CME providers that addresses what it considers to be the proper use of corporate logos in materials related to continuing education for physicians and other healthcare providers. Called Guidelines for Responsible Logo Use, it is available for free download from the Coalition’s Web site.

The Accreditation Council for CME began the discussion about the use of logos from pharmaceutical companies and others who commercially support ACCME-accredited CME activities in late 2011, when it issued a call for comment on a proposed policy related to Standard 6 of the ACCME's Standards for Commercial Support. Standard 6 requires providers to disclose to learners the companies that commercially support the activity. The proposed policy would have banned the use of commercial interests' logos, slogans, or reference to any of the commercial interest’s corporate units in commercial support disclosure statements. Implementation of that proposed policy was put on the back burner as the accreditor worked with stakeholders to come up with its “Proposal for Simplifying and Evolving the Accreditation Requirements and Process,” released earlier this year. Among the simplification proposal’s provisions are a revision to Standard 6.4 that says that disclosures must never include a “corporate logo, trade name, or a product-group message of an ACCME-defined commercial interest.” It also proposes that logos and slogans be banned from acknowledgement of commercial support.

However, according to CME Coalition Senior Advisor Andrew Rosenberg, “The CME Coalition believes that the use of corporate logos provides transparency and disclosure to learners on educational grants obtained from corporate supporters in furtherance of an educational activity.” So it drew up and released its own set of guidelines that are designed to allow a corporate logo in disclosures under certain conditions, such as when it is accompanied by the provider’s logo and is relegated to “the appropriate section of the activity materials (e.g., brochure, handout, printed piece, or digital medium).”


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