Welcome to executive editor Sue Pelletier, a 13-year magazine veteran. She brings meeting industry expertise and compassion for patients to MM.
The integrity and independence of CME has been attacked yet again, this time by Arnold S. Relman, MD, professor emeritus of medicine and of social medicine, Harvard Medical School. In his article “Separating Continuing Medical Education from Pharmaceutical,” in the April 18, 2001, issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, Relman accuses providers of colluding with commercial supporters to turn CME into a drug industry marketing tool. He suggests that pharmaceutical companies' involvement in CME be restricted to renting exhibits, and that only traditional providers such as medical institutions be eligible for accreditation. (See story page 12.)
After reading Relman's article, I called Barbara Barnes, MD, president of the Society for Academic CME. I fully expected her to agree with Relman's conclusions — since it was nine SACME members who, several years ago, issued a White Paper calling on the Accreditation Council for CME to strip nontraditional providers of their accreditation — similar sentiments to those expressed now by Relman. But Barnes surprised me. Refusing to take a divisive stance, she said people needed to collaborate constructively to develop solutions.
Then I talked to Murray Kopelow, MD,, who pointed out that contrary to popular perception, a higher percentage of nontraditional providers, including those controversial communications companies, are earning exemplary compliance status in their accreditation reviews than are their traditional colleagues.
Attacks based on generalizations are a waste of time. Yes, there are extremely serious problems with provider/industry relationships. But I'm with Barnes — let's focus on solving them. In future issues, MM will feature case studies of successful partnerships between industry and providers, as well as practical strategies for handling those tough situations when people push the boundaries. Send me your experiences — so we can bury the blame game and build a blueprint for ensuring that CME is ethical and effective.