A recommendation by the American Medical Association’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs to eliminate industry funding from medical education wasn’t approved by the AMA’s Reference Committee on Amendments to Constitution and Bylaws this week, but it could return in another form next year.

At a hearing on June 15 at the AMA’s annual House of Delegates meeting, speakers representing more than 40 organizations, including the Alliance for CME, North American Association of Medical Education and Communication Cos., and the Council of Medical and Specialty Societies, spoke out against CEJA’s recommendation, while just a handful spoke in support of it. CEJA’s proposal called for the elimination of industry funding from medical education, except in cases where technical training in the use of a new technique or device is required. The report argues that industry support of professional education raises concerns that threaten the integrity of professional education and that the mechanisms in place to manage potential conflicts are not sufficient to address those concerns.

After hearing all the testimony, AMA’s Reference Committee decided to refer this report back to CEJA, meaning no action was taken and won’t be taken on the report as it is presently constituted. Wrote the Reference Committee in its decision: “Testimony emphasized that the report lacked clarity with respect to distinguishing certified continuing medical education and uncertified promotional education…” It also stressed the need to more fully consider the role newly adopted accreditation standards play in addressing potential bias in CME. Additionally, the committee cites testimony that CEJA should seek further input from stakeholders to clarify concerns and explore options for achieving the goal of bias-free CME.

The outcome was not a surprise, given the debates and responses that took place before the hearing, says Marissa Seligman, vice president and compliance officer at Pri-Med Institute, Boston. The report was out of sync with the 40 groups that testified against it, as well as AMA leadership and membership, she adds.

CEJA could revise the report and bring it back before the committee at next June’s annual meeting. For more on the story, check out the July/August issue of Medical Meetings. Here’s more about the Reference Committee’s decision, as well as the original CEJA report.