ACCME changes conflict-of-interest rules

Tighter controls would limit continuing medical education speakers.

By Myrle Croasdale — Posted Oct. 18, 2004

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Pressure from the Office of Inspector General has the medical profession making serious changes to continuing medical education, according to CME leaders.

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, of which the American Medical Association is a member, laid out revised rules Sept. 28 to further distance CME from commercial influence. CME providers will have until May 2005 to come into compliance, and the impact of these changes is still being weighed. But physicians who make presentations at CME events or help plan these activities can count on tighter controls over what they can speak about.

Van Harrison, PhD, a professor at the University of Michigan Medical School and director of its CME office, said, "As I've talked with other long-term CME directors, this change has more impact than any other change ACCME has made in the last 20 years."

What's new is that the ACCME no longer will accept disclosure of a presenter's ties to a drug company or medical device manufacturer as sufficient to resolve this conflict of interest. Individuals must end their financial relationship with the company or not speak on a topic.

All involved in planning a CME event will be held to these same standards. Conflicts of interest in financial ties of spouses or partners also must be resolved.

Marcia Jackson, PhD, president of the Alliance for Continuing Medical Education, said this means that some qualified people will not be allowed to speak. For example, if a doctor is asked to present information on a new diabetes treatment and the research was funded by the drug company, he or she may report only on the data and results of the research. Someone else must discuss the recommendations for using this treatment, but there might be no one else qualified to speak because the drug is so new.

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External links

Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education 2004 Standards for Commercial Support (link)

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