SACME session

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A session at SACME s fall meeting on working with industry during these increasingly difficult regulatory and lawsuit-happy times was amazing. Led by a consultant who worked for industry for 23 years and a pharmaceutical industry representative, they walked through what is causing industry to be so freaky about CME these days (it cracked me up when they flashed a badge with "Inspector General of the OIG" on the screen). As the industry person said, "Our lawyers want to keep our CEOs and employees out of jail." I won t go into too much detail here, since it s pretty much what our cover story is all about (should be available online in 10 days or so), but the consensus was that the industry response to the new ACCME Standards, along with everything else that s going on, is "unquestionably decreased funding, especially for those who blur the line between education and promotion."

While recognizing that most pharma companies are stuck on the old "traditional tactical data dump" model where the supporter has no input over anything and treat providers like vendors (the MECCs specter came up more than once), the presenters said that now that "compliance is what everyone s thinking about, it s the right time for [pharma] to learn that good education is the best form of compliance."

They asked the audience to "just say no" to activities that, while highly fundable, don t practice good adult learning principles. One participant shot back, "Why doesn t pharma just say no?" To which the industry rep said, "You have the advantage right now, because companies do believe it s safer to work with you [in this case, academic providers) than a MECC. The pushback comes from MECCs who can put together the type of program docs want to go to. You need to hook up with the MECCs and come back to us." The consultant added that three reasons pharma doesn t say no are:

    1. We have suffered professionally over this. Those who push for change don t rise in the company to where they can make change happen.

    2. Education. We don t have enough knowledge about CME and adult education principles in industry.

    3. Lack of outcomes. You can help us with that.

The problem with outcomes, of course, is that pharma still thinks of outcomes in terms of scrip-tracking, which is a pretty scary idea these days. And those who do "get it" about outcomes still don t want to fund it. To the latter, the pharma person said, "Don t give us a choice. Don t put it in as a line item we can take out. Make it part of the program."

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