The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education yesterday announced that its member organizations have unanimously approved the 2004 UpdatedStandards for Commercial Support: Standards to Ensure the Independence of CME Activities.
While the new Standards were greeted as an improvement over the previous Draft Standards, which raised objections about their conflict-of-interest rules last year, some of the new Standards’ companion documents are already causing a stir in the CME community.
The Standards themselves say that CME providers must provide a mechanism to identify and resolve all conflicts of interest, but it appears to leave the decisions about how to do that up to providers. The addendum, entitled "Identifying and Resolving Conflicts of Interest in Continuing Medical Education," however, provides examples of what will and will not, in ACCME’s opinion, resolve the situation.
One of the proposed solutions just elicited a laugh from the audience at the Annual Conference of the National Task Force on CME Provider/Industry Collaboration, going on now in Baltimore, Md. It was to ask speakers to alter their financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies in order to be allowed to speak at a medical activity. Other recommendations, such as limiting the content to a report without recommendations, and limiting the sources for recommendations, are being perceived as being in opposition to First Amendment rights to free speech by some CME providers.