RIP for sales reps?

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I've been e-chatting lately with a reader who was curious about the role of pharma sales reps in CME, which seems to be evolving in light of today's harshly scrutinous (is that a word?) climate.

It's hard to say definitively. Each company seems to deal with all the new rules and regs a little differently. In researching, writing and/or reading these articles--Frustration Factor, Why Can't Reps Distribute CME Activities?, Code Blue for CME, among others--I'm leaning toward the opinion that the sales rep is going to be edged out of

CME altogether one of these days. While some companies are still keeping them in the loop, the whopping fines paid recently for any whiff of impropriety, along with the ACCME's new Standards for Commercial Support, which seem to frown on the practice, makes me think their CME days are

numbered. There are a lot of CME providers who hope I'm wrong about that, and I may very well be. But the shift I'm seeing is to separate promotion from education as much as possible, which makes keeping the rep involved risky at best.

More and more companies are coming down on the side of restricting their reps from doing anything other than give the requesting institution a phone number to call (i.e., either the MedEd provider or the company's Medical Affairs department). There are still a few holdouts that keep the reps in the middle, but for good or for ill, I tend to think we'll see less and less of that in the future.

Is this good or bad for CME? Hard to say--I can see two sides to that coin.

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