The latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association offers several articles on conflicts of interest.
* “Accredited continuing medical education (CME) activities are a key resource for providing credible and accessible information. However, serious concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of CME, from the perspectives of educational design as well as potential influence from commercial and other interests.”
* “Disclosure of COI involving faculty and planners involved in continuing education activities to learners as currently required by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) has many limitations. First, this disclosure is restricted to manufacturers, distributors, re-sellers, and marketers of products that are used by patients (essentially the drug and device industries), failing to address other commercial entities that might be relevant to professional practice, such as consulting firms, medical record companies, and diagnostic laboratories.”
* “In addition, the ACCME focuses only on financial relationships, ignoring other possible sources of COI such as uncompensated board memberships, research interests, and institutional affiliations.”
* “Although these ACCME requirements have been in effect for more than 10 years, it is discouraging to note that organizations continue to struggle to meet them. For example, in the March 2016 accreditation cohort, more than 30% of 46 surveyed CME providers were in noncompliance with one or more of the elements relating to disclosure and resolution of COI.”
* “The acceptance of industry funding in the form of both grants and advertising and exhibit revenue can create an institutional financial conflict of interest, with the potential to adversely affect not only educational programming but also other key organizational priorities.”
* “The COI may bias the choice of topics in favor of those that are more aligned with the interests of industry rather than the mission of the organization.”
Continuing education should not be an extension of public relations and marketing.