THERE’S A LIMIT: Tom Sullivan, president and founder of medical education company Rockpointe Corporation, believes you can’t keep raising registration fees to make up for shrinking pharma funding. “After a while,” he said, “you reach a curve where you’re too expensive and people stop coming.”
total revenue. For backers of industry support, this is all as it should be.
Industry involvement in CME, they say, is a natural out- growth of scientific collaboration, and vital to the advance- ment of medicine and best-practice health care. Even the American Medical Association’s Council on Judicial and Ethi- cal Affairs, which suggests industry grants be avoided when- ever possible, admitted in a 2011 report: “Relationships between medicine and industry have…provided significant resources for professional education, to the ultimate benefits of patients and the public.” But $1.2 billion is a lot of money—and all those industry
dollars raised suspicions about the integrity of the medical education they were paying for. (See the timeline startingon p. 44.) Whether or not bias truly existed, the pressure of a multi-year congressional investigation into industry support of CME (spearheaded by U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-IA, a rankingmember of the Senate Finance Committee, and occurring from 2005 to 2007) and negative media attention took a toll, and drug and device makers began to pull back
TIMELINE: INDUSTRY-BACKED CME 2003
The Advanced Medical Technology Association (Adva- Med), the chief trade group for the medical-device industry, follows suit with its own Code of Ethics on Interactions with Health Care Professionals.
TheU.S.Department of Health&HumanServices (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) issues “Compliance Pro- gram Guidance for Pharmaceutical Manufacturers,” which rec- ommends that drug and device makers adopt corporate policies to prevent kickbacks to CME providers, and that the companies separate their education-grant activity from their product-marketing activity.
from CME. In 2010, accredited CME providers received $830 million—37 percent of total income—in commercial support. That’s a drop of 3 percent from the previous year and 31 percent from 2007. While the economic downturn that played out over the same time surely also played a part, most within the industry agree that the increased scrutiny led to at least some of the withdrawal.
“It’s definitely a different land- scape today.”
Given that 80 percent of accredited CME providers accept
at least some commercial support, the decrease in CME grants has had a significant impact on revenue mix. “Five years ago, our funding was one-third from registration, one- third from exhibits, and one-third from industry funding,” Harwood said. “Now it’s two-fifths registration, one-fifth exhibits, one-fifth industry, and one-fifth other.” For IDSA, “other” includes governmental grants and royalties from