Freedom of Speech
COURT MUZZLES FDA
The FDA has lost again--and pharmaceutical companies now have more wiggle room to promote off-label uses of drugs and medical devices. In a recent decision, U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth denied the FDA's motion to amend his July 1998 ruling curtailing the agency's power to regulate the drug industry.
In his original decision on the lawsuit brought by the Washington Legal Foundation, a nonprofit organization that fights government regulation, Lamberth ruled that FDA regulations on industry promotion of off-label drugs and devices were a violation of manufacturers' commercial speech rights. He said the FDA cannot forbid manufacturers from distributing articles or books about off-label uses, or from suggesting content or speakers to independent CME providers.
The FDA then asked Lamberth to amend his ruling to dovetail with the FDA Modification Act. Passed by Congress several years ago, FDAMA allowed the FDA more regulatory power than Lamberth's ruling. But Lamberth decided to override Congress.
Dismissing the FDA's arguments as "preposterous," and "paternalistic," Lamberth stated that FDAMA was "a gross imposition upon free speech."
The FDA has until the end of September to appeal the decision, and is in the "process of deliberations," says Brad Stone, FDA press spokesperson.
So, what does the ruling mean for CME? It means industry and accredited providers no longer have to abide by similar rules. The frameworks for indus-
try/provider relations set by the Accreditation Coun-
cil for CME and by the FDA used to be "highly compatible," says Jann Balmer, RN, PhD, director of CME, Uni-
versity of Virginia School of Medicine. But now, she observes, "It's not balanced. It's like a seesaw with someone on one end and no one else on the other side." Maintaining partnerships with industry has become more difficult, she says.
On a more optimistic note, Konrad C. Retz, PhD, director, department of education, American Osteopathic Association, Chicago, says he has seen no negative effect from the lawsuit. "Pharmaceutical industry representatives have made it clear that their legal departments have advised them to go slow. They are following polices that were in place prior to the ruling last year."
For more background on the case, see MM December 1998, page 42.
Acronym Soup CME CHANGES NAMES You've called yourself a CME provider for years, but your acronym has just been changed. The American Medical Association has decided to use the term CPPD--Continuing Physician Profes-sional Development. It may be a mouthful, but the AMA hopes the new name will help inspire providers to liberate CME from traditional boundaries.
"Words are important and there is an urgent need for [CME professionals] to signal that they want CME to be even more relevant to the learning needs of practicing doctors," says Dennis K. Wentz, MD, director, division of CPPD, AMA. "Shouldn't we embrace the reality that, having finished residency, a physician is a member of a learned profession responsible for, and able to, direct his/her own education?"
The AMA welcomes your comments on the name change and asks that you send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ties That Bind MPI PROMOTES FAMILY TIME There is no doubt about who was the most well-receivedat the 1999 World Education Congress of Meeting Professionals International, held in July at Philadelphia's Pennsyl-vania Convention Center. Eleven-year-old Christopher Simeone walked on stage during the first general session, faced thousands of attendees, and announced that he was taking a break from his paper route and golf practice to introduce his dad.
With hugs from his son and wife Joy, and laughter and applause from the audience, Edward G. Simeone, CMP, manager ofevent management, EMC Corp., Hopkinton, Mass., took the mike and said that his goal as MPI's 1999-2000 chairman of the board was to help members find a balance between their personal and professional lives.
"Some say [that balance] means a decline in productivity. This is a daring step for an association," he said. "But personal imbalance threatens contentment, happiness, and, ultimately, productivity. My commitment is [to have] MPI focus on nurturing the whole person." Attendees responded with a standing ovation.
MPI drew a record crowd of 3,300 attendees from 28 nations. The general sessions were carried live on the Internet by broadcast.com, MPI's partner.
In other news, MPI has published two new industry books:
* Corbin Ball, MM columnist, has written The Ultimate Meeting Professional's Software Guide, priced at $25 for members and $35 for nonmembers.
* Professional Meeting Management: A European Handbook, priced at $30 for members and $42 for nonmembers.
sound off Lois Trench-Hines
The Accreditation Council for CME needs another provider category: education company. That way, education companies won't be lumped together with communications companies. So says Lois Trench-Hines, president, Meniscus Educational Institute, Bala Cynwyd, Pa. While there are probably more similarities than differences between communications and education companies, she says it's important to make the distinction. For example, education companies should have outside education review committees.
MEI is triple-accredited, by the, the American Council for Pharmacy Education, and the American Nurses Credentialing Center. To satisfy nursing and pharmacy accreditation criteria, all enduring materials must be pilot tested. "We learned from that to pilot test every CE program. Education companies go the extra mile. I'm not saying communications companies deliver a less valued program. But there are philosophical differences. We may, let's say, stargaze a little bit, not necessarily to do a project, but for the sake of our interest in education."
Tragedy in Turkey: You Can Help The meeting and incentive industry has rallied support for victims of Turkey's devastating earthquake, which killed and injured thousands of people. A fund,Partners for Relief, has been established. You can send your donations directly to the fund, using the ABA wire number 122101706. The Account number is 0046703315. Your funds will either go directly to the Red Cross or to a relief agency in Istanbul.
For more information, contact Echo Farrell, Destination Echoes, USA Representation at (480) 607-9990, or send a fax to (480) 607-9995.
If you have a meeting scheduled in Turkey, you don't need to worry about it, says Patricia Fisch, U.S. Office for Istanbul Turkey Conventions and Conferences, Washington, D.C. "We are trying to let meeting planners know that nothing that has been there for 1,500 years has been damaged." Istanbul's hotels, as well as its historic sites, are also unhurt.
Not one convention has canceled because of the earthquake, Fisch says. She adds that she received a call from a staffer from the International Skeletal Society, booked for a 2001 conference, who told Fisch that the society was still coming to Turkey, and contributing money to alleviate the horror. "They really had a heart," says Fisch.
SAN DIEGO WOWS ATTENDEES
Maya Angelou didn't use PowerPoint. In her keynote address at the American Society of Association Executives annual conference, she used poetry, passion, song,and memory to encourage attendees to recognize the power they have to help people. ASAE planners had already taken heed of her message, bringing in 60 young people from the community and teaming them up with association execs and exhibitors so they could learn about the meeting industry.
Angelou and the other general session speakers--astronauts Jim Lovell and Gene Kranz of Apollo 13's command control--plus perfect weather and a great family destination all helped make the ASAE meeting in San Diego the association's largest ever. Held August 21 to 24, the conference drew a record 6,221 delegates, including a high number of guests, spouses, and children.
Art and culture played a major role in the San Diego event. Evening events at Embarcadero Bay Park, Balboa Park, and Navy Pier (featuring a concert by Kenny Loggins) gave delegates a taste of San Diego's colorful history and incredible outdoor venues.
Other firsts at this meeting:
* The ASAE Silent Auction was held entirely in cyberspace.
* Conference staff used Palmtop computers, rather than noteboooks, to update the meeting details.
* In more technology-related news, ASAE announced two online alliances:
* A partnership with the PlanSoft Network allows meeting planners to electronically build a complete meeting request and submit it to several facilities at once. (For more on PlanSoft, see page 15.)
* ASAE has also joined forces with AssociationCentral.com. The organizations will jointly promote a Web site, debuting late this year. The portal will give the general public access to information, services, and products offered by associations. --Betsy Bair
Taking Charge CLC CHOOSES NEW LEADER Association Management Group, which has 18 association clients nationwide and a strong expertise in certification programs, has been contracted to manage the Convention Liaison Council, the conglomerate of industry associations that runs the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) program. Garis Distelhorst, CAE, has been chosen as CLC's new president and CEO. Distel-horst, president of Association Initiatives Inc., is a past chairman of the American Society of Association Executives and former CEO of the National Association of College Stores.
Distelhorst says he would like to bring more focus to the economic impact of the meetings and convention industry, to improve the recognition of CMPs and expand the program to reach more individuals, and to tap CMPs as a "huge" information resource for the industry.
Jump-starting the recertification program and "getting his arms around APEX" are two other goals. APEX, or the Approved Practices Excellence Exchange, is an initiative that CLC, with its more than two dozen constituent industry associations, is "uniquely positioned to tackle," Distelhorst says.
His office will put together a business plan and a five-year implementation timeline to present to the CLC board in October.
The day-to-day administration of the CMP program will be handled out of AMG's McClean, Va., office, but the office of the president will be located in Westlake, Ohio, where Distelhorst lives and where he'll be working full-time as CLC's CEO. CLC had been managed for the last few years by the Resource Center for Associations in Wheat Ridge, Colo.
In other CLC news, the Hall of Leaders gala/induction will be held every two years instead of every 18 months, and it will no longer be held during another association's event. The next Hall of Leaders gala will be in November 2000, in conjunction with CLC's Forum meeting in Washington, D.C. -- Regina McGee
Block Busters The perennially hot topic of housing was the focus of lively debate during a truly interactive session at the ASAE annual conference. Attendees discussed strategies for meeting their room blocks. They particularly noted the problems they had dealing with international delegates, as overseas tour operators often circumvent housing blocks to make their own reservations. (Watch for our December cover story about the growing influx of foreign delegates at health care conventions.)
Attendees also reviewed the new ASAE/PCMA (Professional Convention Management Assoc-iation) Housing Trends Study. Some 293 planners took part in the survey, conducted in July by CIC Research of San Diego, which asked planners about their current (1999) and future (2001) housing practices. The survey was last conducted in 1997.
* Larger events tend to use third-party housing services, and the trend is on the rise. For events requiring 10 or more hotels, 61 percent will use third parties in 2001, up from 47 percent in 1997.
* Nearly half (44 percent) of meetings requiring four or more hotels were coordinated by third parties in 1999; 35 percent are using CVB housing services; and 6 percent are handling it in-house.
* Third-party housing services that offer Internet reservations are much more popular than CVBs providing Internet reservations: 24 percent of respondents use third parties, while only one percent use CVBs. In 2001, 33 percent of repsondents expect to use third parties, but the percentage using CVBs shows no significant change. --Betsy Bair
E-MeetingManagement PLANSOFT EXPANDS SERVICES Remember Ajenis--the product that was promised to solve many of the long-standing communication problems between hoteliers and planners by allowing the electronic exchange of meeting data? It's several years after the initial launch projections, but the product, released by PlanSoft Corp., is now available.
Several thousand copies have been distributed to planners and hoteliers, who are trying it out and providing feedback, says Ted Frank, executive vice president, PlanSoft. The version of Ajenis for planners is available for a $500 annual license fee. Hotels pay $9,000 to $10,000 per year, per property. That price tag, Frank says, is well worth it.
"If all you do is eliminate faxes and overnight mail to and from planners, it's worth it. [Hoteliers] get hundreds of resumes in different formats, and have to track all changes. The communication back and forth is a logistical nightmare. The cost [of Ajenis] is nothing compared to what is saved."
Further, PlanSoft will introduce a Web-based application of Ajenis, not yet priced, which will be available to meeting facilities early this fall and to meeting planners by the end of the year, he says. It will enable hotel convention services departments, without the software on their desktops, to jump onto the Web and review what changes a planner has made in the meeting resume.
Beyond Ajenis But PlanSoft has gone beyond being a one-product company, he says. "We see ourselves as an online resource for the meeting planner community, a place to conduct business and get information."
Toward that end, the company relaunched its meeting industry Web site in late June, creating four distinct tracts. While www.plansoft.com had been aimed at all of PlanSoft's constituencies, the site now has unique services for meeting planners, meeting facilities, suppliers (audiovisual companies, DMCs, and so on), and those interested in PlanSoft corporate information.
The meeting planner area is rich with editorial content. (See sidebar, above.) Also in the planner-specific area, a searchable database has information on about 25,000 suppliers, ranging from car rental companies to hotels. Look for a new "Great Rates" program soon. A staff of 15 people makes about 75,000 phone calls per year to update the database.
Under an agreement with ATCOM/INFO, planners will be able to search for properties equipped with ATCOM/INFO's IPORT Meeting Manager, which offers T-1 Internet access speed in guest and meeting rooms.
The site's online request for proposal (RFP) service fielded 110,000 room nights in 1999, and use is "growing very dramatically," Frank says. "Virtually every hotel chain has signed on."
PlanSoft staff will assist meeting planners, ensuring that hotels respond within the planner's time frame. PlanSoft receives a 4 percent commission from hotels on business generated by its RFP service. -- Susan Hatch
PLAN SOFT ALLIANCE PlanSoft has formed an alliance with Adams Business Media, publisher of MM. Visitors to the ABM site, www.meetingsnet.com, now have immediate access to the PlanSoft Network, a database of every North American hotel--nearly 8,000--with 5,000 square feet or more of function space. Many listings include panoramic views of meeting rooms, guest rooms, and public space. PlanSoft's electronic RFP system allows planners to send meeting dates and specs to up to 12 hotels, and to hear back within the time frame designated by the planner (48 hours is the average). Listings for 14,000 industry suppliers are also included. By the end of the year, the PlanSoft Network will also list thousands of overseas hotels.
The new "Planning Guide" section of PlanSoft's site offers a compilation of features and daily news articles on meeting planning issues, supplied by Adams Business Media. The archives will be searchable. --Betsy Bair
South of the Border LATIN AMERICADEBUTS Latin America may not have a high profile as a meeting and incentive destination--but it delivers. That's the theme of the first Meetings and Incentive Travel Market (MITM)-Latin America, to take place in Guadalajara, Mexico, from Jan-uary 14 to 17.
Instead of a conventional trade show, the travel market will bring together suppliers and attendees for individual 15-minute appointments. There will also be a full day of seminars and optional post-show tours to such Mexican destinations as Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, and Oaxaca. The show has a "qualified buyer" program with discounted rates: A $350 fee includes transportation on American Airlines, as well as hotel accommodations and meals.
"Guadalajara is one of the best-kept secrets in Mexico," says Carol Krugman, who is assisting the show organizers. "And throughout Latin America, the increasing economic stability of recent years has spurred foreign investment to improve the hospitality infrastructure."
Sponsors of MITM-Latin America include GSAR www.worldincentivenexus.com/trade/index.htm. Or you can contact either Jim Skiba, CMP, World Incentive Nexus, (415) 626-1784; fax (415) 626-1445; e-mail email@example.com or Carol Krugman, CMP, CMM, (954) 796-0606; fax (954) 796-4111; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, American Airlines, World Incentive Nexus, Meeting Professionals International, and Adams Business Media. For more information, visit
The winner of MM's 1999 M&D (Merit & Distinction) Award is Coni Tierney, CMP, manager, conference services, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston. Winners' names are drawn randomly from the pool of readers who submit their favorite hotels, resorts, and conference centers. Tierney won a cruise to the Caribbean on a five-star luxury liner.
PCMA SETTLES HARASSMENT SUIT
The Professional Convention Management Association, in Birmingham, Ala., has agreed to pay a settlement in the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former employee a year ago. Because a nondisclosure statement is part of the settlement agreement, PCMA will not reveal any details.
The lawsuit was brought by former controller, Pamela M. Boyles, who alleged that her supervisor, William J. Myers, CAE, CMP, created a sexually hostile environment. Myers, who was COO, was fired by PCMA for violating its sexual harassment policy after the lawsuit was filed. Myers denied all charges, as did PCMA, despite its firing of Myers. (See MM, January/February 1999, page 19.)
I found your Web site and information about the SMCDCME debate very interesting. I'd like to mention a third alternative to the debate between academic CME versus pharmaceutical company-sponsored CME.
I have partnered with health care professionals for the last 15 years to design and develop instructionally sound education on topics ranging from diabetes, hypertension, and pediatric asthma to family planning and AIDS prevention. Some of these programs were seminar-based, but most have been designed for distance learning.
I would hate to see physicians throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water on this one. It is possible to have a profit motive and be keenly interested in improving physician skills and knowledge. The argument against pharmaceutical-sponsored CME programs should be based as much on their lack of sound instructional design and educational value as anything else.
Vana Prewitt, Principal
Praxis Learning Systems
Chapel Hill, NC