The Accreditation Council for CME responded to a letter of inquiry from the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging this week, answering questions the committee had about its accreditation process and mechanisms to prevent industry influence.

The committee, chaired by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), is concerned that pharmaceutical companies use CME as a marketing tool. “Of particular concern are instances where drug companies use CME courses to encourage physicians to use their products for controversial medical practices,” writes Kohl in the letter, citing, as an example, CME related to herpes testing in pregnant women when such testing is not recommended by scientific evidence.

The committee asked the ACCME for a description of the accreditation process and the criteria the ACCME uses to evaluate the scientific validity of course content. It also asked what mechanisms the ACCME uses to prevent industry from influencing CME courses and about further plans to develop such mechanisms.

Murray Kopelow, MD, chief executive, ACCME, responded this week to the four questions in a 26-page letter to Sen. Kohl. In short, Kopelow wrote: “Providers are not eligible for accreditation if they present activities that promote treatments that are known to have risks or dangers that outweigh the benefits or are known to be ineffective in the treatment of patients. An organization whose program of CME is devoted to advocacy of unscientific modalities of diagnosis or therapy is not eligible to apply for ACCME accreditation. Accredited providers are responsible for validating the clinical content of CME activities that they provide.”

In response to the fourth concern about further plans to develop new mechanisms, Kopelow stated that ACCME is working on developing new monitoring and oversight processes “We recently informed our providers that the ACCME has adopted an enhanced focus on monitoring and surveillance of the CME system,” he wrote.

To read the entire letter, go to www.accme.org.