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Pfizer pulls CME funding for med ed firms

Pfizer has announced that it is ending all direct funding for physician continuing medical education programmes
Pfizer has announced that it is ending all direct funding for physician continuing medical education (CME) programmes provided by medical education and communication companies (MECCs) effective immediately.

It will, however, honour any existing commitments already in place and will continue to fund CME programmes at academic medical centres and teaching hospitals, as well as those sponsored by associations, medical societies and community hospitals. The move is aimed at alleviating concerns that industry support and backing biases CME content.

Dr Joseph Feczko, chief medical officer of Pfizer, said: "We understand that even the appearance of conflicts in CME is damaging and we are determined to take actions that are in the best interests of patients and physicians."

According to Verispan, a healthcare information provider, Pfizer's support for CME has dropped during recent years, falling from total funding of $314m in 2005 to $285m in 2006. In 2007, Pfizer reported spending $80m on CME.

Dr George Mejicano, associate dean for continuing professional development at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, said: "Today's announcement sends a strong signal that educational funds must be used appropriately and that industry support is intended to fund education to improve health."

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) in the US has accredited institutions and organisations offering continuing medical education since 1981. Pharmaceutical companies have helped fund these programmes because they provide important new clinical information to physicians and other healthcare professionals.

4th July 2008

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