New standards aim to hike CME quality

The update focuses on guidelines for commercial support.

By Myrle Croasdale — Posted April 26, 2004

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Physicians attending a continuing medical education lecture or taking part in other CME events are going to get a higher quality product if a proposed update is adopted, according to Murray Kopelow, MD, executive director of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education.

The ACCME's board approved a new version of its commercial support standards for CME on April 1.

The ACCME's seven parent organizations have until Sept. 28 to consider them. Once final approval is given, the ACCME will determine when the standards will be implemented.

The update was driven by changes in the CME environment, Dr. Kopelow said. The last standards were set in 1992, before the Internet and streaming video were widely available. Commercial spending on CME has also surged. In 2002, $1.6 billion in income was reported to the ACCME by CME providers. Commercial funding, advertising and exhibit fees make up 60% of that amount. Under the updated standards, providers must make sure that everyone who is involved with CME content or has influence over it discloses relevant financial ties to commercial interests. Also, CME providers will be required to have their own policies for resolving conflicts of interest.

For example, a speaker discloses that the research he or she is presenting was funded by a medical device manufacturer. This alone doesn't resolve the conflict of interest inherent in the work. However, if the presentation is based on a double-blind, randomized control study, the data are considered bias-free, regardless of the researcher's relationship with the manufacturer.

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