The ACCME applauds the federal government's inclusion of continuing health care education in its public health initiative to reduce prescription drug abuse. The 2011 Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan, released by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy on April 19, includes four major action areas. The first action area is education, including continuing education for health care professionals.
In concert with the White House plan, the Food and Drug Administration announced a new Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy – or REMS – for all extended-release and long-acting opioid medications. A central component of the opioid REMS is an education program for prescribers. In its notification to manufacturers, FDA said it "expects that the training will be conducted by accredited, independent continuing medical education providers, to the extent practicable."
We are honored that the government views accredited CME as a strategic asset to this critical public health and public safety initiative. We believe accredited CME can have a demonstrable impact on improving physician expertise and patient safety in this area. The accredited CME system has the capacity, scope, flexibility, and high standards to respond to the government's call for action. The opioid REMS juxtaposes pharmaceutical companies and accredited CME in a way that has not occurred before.
The ACCME Accreditation Criteria and Standards for Commercial Support provide the right framework for ensuring that CME activities about REMS are evidence-based, independent of commercial influence, based on adult learning principles, and relevant to practice needs.
For almost 20 years, the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support have provided the framework for appropriately managing interactions between accredited providers and the pharmaceutical industry. These ACCME Standards will continue to apply to circumstance created by the FDA opioid REMS mandate.
We will continue to work with all stakeholders – including the FDA, the drug manufacturers, and the accredited providers - to ensure that accredited CME about REMS meets the ACCME’s standards for independence while at the same time fulfilling the expectations that the FDA has identified for accredited CME that supports REMS. As we move forward, we will be guided by our first priority — to promote public health and safety.
This will be an evolving process. Strategy and tactics regarding implementation need to be worked out. Effective and independent education is expected. As the need arises, ACCME will develop guidance for the CME provider community to assist with their understanding and application of the process.
We welcome your feedback. Please e-mail your questions and your input to postmaster@ACCME.org. Thank you.