Is your doctor’s continuing ed funded by pharma?

Linked on our blogs  with Début de la campagne de vaccination, with Von der Grippe zum Gerippe, and with Jim Turner Files Lawsuit Against FDA To Stop Swine Flu Vaccine.

Published on Online Journal, by Martha Rosenberg, Nov. 6, 2009.

Raise your hand if you’ve breathed a sigh of relief seeing your doctor had a CME certificate next to the medical school diploma on the wall …

… CMEs, continuing medical education courses, are sponsored by pharma, “taught” by pharma funded specialists and bracketed by pop-up drug ads which sometimes occlude the text you’re reading. (“Which of the following manic symptoms are most seriously impacting your bipolar patients’ lives?” asked a disease-baiting ad for Geodon, direct-to-consumer style, when we looked at a CME.) Yet doctors are required to sit through the canned message like a time-share presentation and answer a quiz just to keep their state licenses and sometimes insurance policies.  

In fact the only good thing doctors have to say about CMEs is they are hard to fail – “second chance” questions pop up if you miss the first ones; whew! – and they are often free. Why?

CMEs are supposed to be monitored by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) but like Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s stock ratings funding comes from the client side so buyer beware.

Last year Bernard Carroll, MD, a former chairman of psychiatry at Duke, challenged the objectivity of a CME Outfitters course called Atypical Antipsychotics in Major Depressive Disorder: When Current Treatments Are Not Enough (what are they trying to say?) funded by Seroquel maker AstraZeneca and taught by disgraced Emory University psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff, MD, who lost his department chairmanship due to unreported pharma income.

Two doses of Seroquel were tested but only the results of one were “statistically significant,” writes Carroll on a blog called Health Care Renewal. “One of the junior presenters stated very clearly that there was ‘significant improvement in both response and remission with both doses’ of Seroquel. That is a falsification of the scientific record” … (full text).

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