CME professionals worldwide are debating how to develop independent education and ethical partnerships with pharmaceutical companies. That was one of the trends discussed at the Global Alliance for Medical Education annual conference, held June 20 to 22 at the Westin New York at Times Square. The meeting drew about 100 attendees from the around the world.

As CME programs become formalized, many countries, like the United States, depend heavily on pharmaceutical industry funding for CME and are facing similar obstacles to the ones providers encounter here. A national accreditation system is under development in Sweden, but one of the barriers is that the pharmaceutical industry is not interested in funding softer subjects, such as courses about patient/doctor relationships, although this education is necessary, said Göran Sjönell MD, PhD, Familjeläkare, medical director, Familjemedicinska Institutet, Stockholm.

Malaysia has taken an interesting approach — allowing pharmaceutical companies to develop 25 percent of the content for CME events. “We recognized that it was important for the pharmaceutical industry to present information on drugs,” said P. Krishnan, MD, president, Commonwealth Medical Association, Kuala Lumpur.

In China, the biggest challenge in developing independent CME is that docs are in favor of pharmaceutical company — controlled programs, said Howard Ho, CEO, EMO Healthcare Communications in Beijing. “The content is good, the programs are free, and there is great entertainment,” Ho said. “Doctors are human.” His company formed a partnership with Washington, D.C. — based Rockpointe Productions and the American College of Cardiology to bring highlights of the ACC annual meeting in April to China via telecasts. Through this initiative, Chinese doctors experienced an unbiased program, said Ho, which will encourage them to push for more independent programs in China.