U.S. physicians wrote, on average, 1,900 prescriptions each in 1998, according to the pharmaceutical consulting firm Scott-Levin. That average was down seven percent from 1997, reports Scott-Levin's Source Prescription Audit, which monitors retail prescriptions nationwide.

Primary care doctors (general practitioners, internists) wrote more than 53 percent of prescriptions dispensed in 1998, followed by OB/GYNs (6.1 percent), pediatricians (5.3 percent), cardiologists (3.9 percent) and psychiatrists (3.8 percent).

The top five therapeutic classes prescribed by primary care physicians were calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, anti-ulcer drugs, and oral antidiabetics. Given that three out of the five most-prescribed drugs are heart medications, is it any surprise that CME for cardiologists--and primary care physicians learning about cardiovascular problems--receives so much commercial support? Expect industry to be eager to underwrite education on anti-ulcer medications as the new COX-2 drugs move to take market share from older products like Merck's Prilosec.

For more about the Scott-Levin report, call Tom Liberta or Nancy Robertone at (215) 860-0440, or e-mail them at

Since 1993, Johnson & Johnson has operated The European Surgical Institute (ESI) in Norderstedt, Germany (near Hamburg), where it has offered its own courses in surgical procedures. Now, the Institute is open for medical conferences and seminars. The facility offers more than 89,000 square feet on three levels. There is a main lecture hall seating 136, a video lecture hall seating 62, and five conference rooms for 5 to 25 people. There is also a library, cafeteria, and bistro in the handsome Bauhaus-style main building.

Facilities for practical education include three laboratories with six tables each for work with an anatomical model. There is a separate laboratory with 12 workplaces for training in microsurgical techniques. There are two operating theaters with nine operating tables, all fully equipped for smaller and larger surgical procedures with comprehensive anesthetics, ultrasound dissection, radiographic representation, and even a voice-controlled surgical robot.

The Institute's video and television studio allows both the recording of surgical procedures and the production of training films. The Institute will assist in coordinating hotel reservations and details such as bus transfers. For further information, visit the ESI Web site at

CME NOTES Health maintenance organization Kaiser Permanente Orange County (KPOC) has won the 1999 Samuel R. Sherman, MD, Meritorious Achievement Award from The Institute for Medical Quality, a subsidiary of the California Medical Association. KPOC was recognized from among 500 health-related organizations across California that submitted applications. The award was presented during the Institute's Current Issues in Continuing Medical Education Provider Conference in Redwood City. Thomas A. Reaper, MD, MPH, the Institute's CME committee chair, presented KPOC the award for Innovation in Continuing Medical Education program planning. "We applaud Kaiser Permanente Orange County as a leader in providing educational activities to its physicians," said Reaper. "The Medical Center's CME programs greatly enhance its physicians' ability to care for patients and the organization's impact upon the community."

"This recognition is a testament to the quality of our continuing education programs," said Ann M. Centeno, director of education for KPOC, who created the project that focuses on self-directed learning among physicians. "We believe that also translates into better care for our patients." KPOC serves nearly 300,000 members in Southern California.

ASSOCIATION NOTES The American Medical Association (AMA) lost money on operations in fiscal 1998, and lost about 2,700 members, according to an auditor's report released by the AMA. According to Timothy Flaherty, MD, the AMA's secretary-treasurer, the AMA probably would have made money on operations except that the AMAP project--an ambitious move to consolidate physician credentialing under the AMA--has proven costly.