Washington, D.C. (July 29, 2009) – Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Senior Vice President Ken Johnson issued the following statement regarding industry support of continuing professional medical education:
“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.
PhRMA member companies believe they should contribute to the process by which physicians remain current on the most effective treatment options. “Some seek to sharply restrict industry funding of the very activities that improve public health and protect patient safety. Proposals of this nature could be problematic and could negatively impact public health.
“In fact, 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.
“Efforts to restrict physicians from serving as faculty for CME if they provide services to biopharmaceutical manufacturers are misguided. 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. Those physicians will be sought after for their expertise and should be allowed to be involved in clinical trials, company sponsored speaker programs and in independent CME that may be funded by a company.
“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.
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