Each year, Sandra Harwood, CMP, vice president of meetings and education for the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), organizes a Clinical Fellows Meeting, a continuing medical education (CME) event for medical fellows heading into private practice that has helped train more than 1,300 physicians.
In years past, Harwood had no difficulty securing financial support for the meeting. A single proposal might have netted a $350,000 medical education grant from a pharmaceutical company. But those days are gone. “Today, I hear, ‘We don’t have that kind of money.
Maybe you could submit a proposal for $20,000 or $30,000,’” Harwood said. “We’re committed to having the meeting, but this is going to be tough.”
Working Harder for Fewer Dollars Pharmaceutical and medical-device companies provide sup- port for CME activities through medical education grants, with CME providers—such as hospitals, medical schools, medical associations and societies, and medical educa-
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tion/communication companies (MECCs)—submitting grant proposals to a company’s medical education group. Over the past few years, federal regulators and industry watchdogs have turned an increasingly watchful—and skeptical—eye on this grant-making activity. Their concern has been that companies were using CME grants to influ- ence physicians and increase their market share. Calls for increased transparency and accountability in CME funding changed how companies review and award grants, putting increased pressure on CME providers to demonstrate the need for the activity and the expected result. Not only is it more work to prepare a grant proposal
today, there are also fewer grants to go around. Fines for violating rules governing industry-physician relations have