While I appreciate the sentiments expressed in this editorial, I'm just itching to write a letter to the editor explaining just how commercial support and CME really works. This is how Dr. Steele thinks it does:
- At such conferences, the drug companies routinely sponsor physician lecturers whose lecture content subtly supports the company's drugs. That does not mean the expert's opinion is bought and paid for, and not based on sound science, but how am I to know whether some other expert would have a different view but was not sponsored to speak by the drug company because that expert is not as flattering about its drug? I'm not to know, and that is the point; these tactics, and the influencing of expert panels, is all about making the experts believable to me so I listen to their advice to prescribe more pills.
What's to be done? A lot, and if doctors don't do it our political leaders should consider doing some of it for them. First, the experts we listen to cannot be listening to the drug companies. Medical societies putting on educational conferences should bar drug company sponsorship of particular lectures and lecturers.