There's bad news for CME providers who rely on pharmaceutical industry grants in the Accreditation Council for CME's Annual Report Data 2007. Providers reported bringing in $1.2 billion in commercial support, a less than 1 percent increase over 2006 — the lowest growth rate by far since the ACCME began recording its data in 1998. In 2006, for example, commercial support jumped 8 percent; in 2004 it rose 4 percent. This news is not unexpected, as experts have been predicting a commercial support nosedive for the past five years due to the increasingly stringent regulatory environment. Overall, providers earned 48 percent of their income from industry grants, down from 50 percent in 2006.

The good news is that total income for CME providers is up more than 6 percent, to $2.5 billion, although this jump did not quite keep pace with expenses, which are up nearly 7 percent. Advertising and exhibits brought in $274 million, an increase of 12 percent this year; while other income, which includes participant registration fees and allocations from providers' parent organizations, also rose 12 percent, to $1 million. This is an improvement over 2006, when advertiser/exhibitor income was up 4 percent and all other income climbed 5 percent over 2005.

Slicing the Pie

No provider group has received as much scrutiny as medical education and communication companies, categorized as publishing/education companies in the data report, so perhaps it is not surprising that their commercial support dropped this year by about 4 percent. However, they continue to attract the biggest share of commercial support, bringing in $594 million, or 72 percent of their income from commercial support in 2007, down from 76 percent in 2006.

Commercial support for medical schools also dropped, by 5 percent, to $245 million in 2007. Hospitals' funding declined as well, to $47 million, an 18 percent drop. However, the other two top provider categories increased their levels of commercial support in 2007: nonprofit physician membership organizations received $215 million, up 16 percent; other nonprofits brought in $78 million, an increase of 37 percent. Compare that to 2006, when each of those five categories went up over 2005; however, in 2005 publishing/education companies increased their level of commercial support by 12 percent over 2004, while almost all the other provider types saw a decrease, including medical schools, whose funding declined 6 percent.

Funding Trends

Total commercial support by year, with growth rates

1998 $302 million
1999 $388 million 28%
2000 $467 million 20%
2001 $569 million 22%
2002 $746 million 31%
2003 $971 million 30%
2004 $1 billion 30%
2005 $1.1 billion 4%
2006 $1.2 billion 8%
2007 $1.21 billion 1%

Note: Numbers and percentages are rounded.

Source: ACCME Annual Data Report 2007