As a CME coordinator for a hospital system, I fully support Pfizer's decision to eliminate funding for medical education and communication companies (“Tough Love,” July/August 2008). I think this is a good step on our way out of the commercial support mess. Pfizer is in no way making a decision about who will be accredited, as some have charged, only how they want to award their grant money. Pfizer is doing the right thing, and I hope that many of the other pharmaceutical companies will follow.
Jane Darrish, MSN
Senior Program Coordinator
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

A Self-Serving Move

I certainly hope people don't believe that Pfizer is eliminating funding for MECCs to be a good corporate citizen (“Tough Love,” July/August 2008). If anything, it is almost an admission of guilt that will create a ripple in many senior executive meetings throughout the industry. One should consider this as a purely self-serving strategic move. Unfortunately, history has already demonstrated other companies will follow suit, as Pfizer is considered a leader. But the chief executive who can weather the legal and regulatory storm will stay the course and continue to support successful, balanced, evidence-based education through the appropriate channels.
President, medical communications company
Name withheld upon request

Honest, but Misguided Attempt

[Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from a statement issued by the Coalition for Healthcare Communication. For the full letter, visit www.cohealthcom.org.]

While a strong supporter of self-regulation in the CME enterprise, the Coalition for Healthcare Communication believes that Pfizer's recent decision to eliminate direct funding of CME through “independent commercial providers” is an honest but misguided attempt to blunt public criticism of commercial support. Unfortunately, this decision supports much of the misinformed criticism of the industry, flies in the face of objective evidence, and does not address the true challenges facing healthcare providers and patients today.

The Accreditation Council for CME's 2006 Accreditation and Compliance Report documents that commercial providers achieved the highest ratings of compliance (94.8 percent) of any group surveyed for all elements relating to the ACCME's Standards for Commercial Support. Unfortunately, Pfizer's decision to redirect its education grants may reduce the robust innovation commercial CME providers bring to medical education. Historically, independent commercial providers have been the first to introduce new techniques and educational formats to the medical community. Because conflict-of-interest compliance has largely focused on commercial support from the private sector, commercial providers have aggressively addressed this issue and currently lead the industry in compliance.

We stand proud of the record of accredited medical education companies and continue to believe that patients are best served when all provider types — including private sector providers — are allowed to fully participate in the enterprise and are subject to the same oversight by government and regulatory bodies.

Pens Don't Buy Prescriptions

We respectfully disagree with Pfizer's decision and urge other grantors to work with the Coalition to develop better long-term solutions aimed at maintaining public confidence in industry-supported education with tactics that truly resolve these issues.
Brad Bednarz
Marty Cearnal
Mark Schaffer
Co-Chairmen, CME Committee
Coalition for Healthcare Communication
New York

Go Green, CME

The thought that a pen would buy a prescription is ludicrous (“Revised PhRMA Code Limits Gifts,” Medical Meetings Extra, July 17, 2008). It is clear that the pharmaceutical industry has taken the wrong path in continually making concessions to assuage its critics, as such concessions simply embolden them to further bully the industry. In the end, pharma support of CME and pharma marketing will be banned unless the industry stands tall and fights for its constitutional rights as the Coalition for Healthcare Communications counsels.
Terry Nugent
Vice-president Marketing
Medical Marketing Service Inc.
Wood Dale, Ill.

I enjoyed your article “Go Green, CME,” (by Lawrence Sherman, July/August 2008). Our CME department is in the process of going green and we would appreciate receiving the Go Green, CME logo. We are already employing some of your suggestions; thank you for some new ideas as well!
Suzanne Anderson
Coordinator, Continuing Medical Education
All Children's Hospital
St. Petersburg, Fla.

I just read your fantastic article “Go Green, CME,” (by Lawrence Sherman, July/August 2008) regarding your green meeting ideas. I would like to applaud you in your efforts to bring this issue to the forefront of the industry, and we could not agree more. Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts, the concessionaire for Yosemite National Park; as well as many other venues and parks in the country and abroad, are making every effort to get the word out about our green meetings. We call our program GreenPath, we are certified ISO 14001 (an environmental management standard), and we won the 2007 IMEX Silver Green Meetings Award. Thank you again for your attention to this essential cause.
Ursa Stearns
Sales Manager
Yosemite National Park and Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
Fish Camp, Calif.

I saw your article “Go Green, CME,” (by Lawrence Sherman, July/August 2008), and wanted to inquire about logo use. At two of our weeklong January meetings we are replacing 400-page program books with CDs and a smaller handout. I thought the Go Green logo would help us educate the physicians and nurses at the meeting about why we are planning to eliminate handouts in the future.
Andrea L. Gaymon
Vice President, Office of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs
VINDICO Medical Education
Thorofare, N.J.

Send your letters to thosansky@meetingsnet.com. We reserve the right to edit letters for space and clarity.

Related Article: Tough Love

Go Green, CME