Washington, D.C. (April 1, 2009) – Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Senior Vice President Ken Johnson issued the following statement regarding industry support of professional medical associations:
“Because medicine constantly changes – new medicines enter the market, existing therapies are approved for additional indications and warnings are updated on labels – it is crucial for physicians to obtain information that enhances their knowledge and skills, and improves clinical outcomes.
“Continuing medical education (CME) is just one source of information helpful to physicians, however. Healthcare practitioners gain important knowledge from journal articles, practice guidelines and from speaking with peers.
“Physicians who are involved in CME and who sit on committees that draft guidelines explaining best practices, often, are leaders in their field. In many cases, they are also the individuals involved in clinical trials for new medications or expanded indications for existing medicines and are on the cutting edge of the research.
“Like academic medical centers and regional hospitals – which also fund physician educational programs – PhRMA member companies believe they should contribute to the process by which physicians remain current on the most effective treatment options.
“For that reason, suggestions, such as some of the proposals offered by the authors of today’s JAMA article, could be problematic. The authors seek to sharply restrict industry funding of the very activities that improve public health and protect patient safety. Highly educated physicians who are leaders in their field have the experience and the integrity to make medical recommendations based on their best medical judgment.
“Still, to safeguard against even the perception of a conflict of interest, medical societies and others already have drafted robust codes of conduct.
“PhRMA recently updated its ‘Code on Interactions With Healthcare Professionals,’ making several changes designed to enhance the independence of CME. Among these new provisions, the PhRMA Code states that funding for CME should support a full range of treatment options and not promote a particular product; companies should separate CME grant-making decisions from sales and marketing departments; and companies should follow CME accreditation standards and respect the independent judgment of CME providers.
“There is no evidence that a company’s funding of CME or other physician educational activities, when provided within appropriate guidelines, creates bias.”
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $50.3 billion in 2008 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $65.2 billion in 2008.
PhRMA Internet Address: www.phrma.org
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For information on the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, visit: www.pparx.org