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Pfizer moves away from centralised online med ed applications

Pfizer is trying to win back accredited education providers who may have been turned off by Big Pharma's newer online grant application systems, which currently dominate in the US

Pfizer is trying to win back accredited education providers who may have been turned off by Big Pharma's newer online grant application systems, which currently dominate in the US.

At the same time, however, non-accredited medical education firms will be discouraged from applying directly.

The newer online marketing systems increasingly taken up by pharmaceutical companies have replaced the drug rep in the US, who had been the main point of contact for providers like community hospitals.

In an interview with US-based Medical Media and Marketing, Maureen Doyle-Scharff, a director of the medical education group at Pfizer, said: "These centralised grant systems may have been the right way to go at the time, but they forced large and small providers alike to operate within the same bureaucratic maze."

"Smaller providers are running a CME programme on a shoestring, and when they're seeking support, it's usually not a lot. Local providers have said to me it's not even worth submitting applications for activities such as grand rounds," added Doyle-Scharff.

Pfizer, which is of the largest supporters of industry-funded CME in the US, is now offering what it says is a kinder, gentler grant management portal, with user-friendly features built in based on user feedback.

Only accredited providers are able to register and they can be accredited by the Accreditation Council for CME in the US (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) or, in the case of a hospital, the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organisations.

Launched on 4 January, www.pfizermededgrants.com is part of wider activities at the firm to restore funding to community hospitals and state chapters of specialty societies while better targeting grants to areas of greatest need.

The new system requires that individuals applying for grants be the ones responsible for the education. Many accredited MECCs will fall into the category of level-three providers (corresponding to the level of outcomes they can produce), the level which Pfizer wants to support.

However, non-accredited MECCs would need to change their business model to focus more on teaching hospitals, which seek to broaden their competencies through instructional design and medical writing.

Pfizer will begin to phase out so-called capabilities presentations, during which non-accredited MECCs meet with drug companies to showcase their services, Doyle-Scharff concluded.

15th January 2008

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