On April 25, 2007, the staff of the Senate Committee on Finance released a report that raised concerns about the pharmaceutical industry’s financial support of continuing medical education (CME) and the ACCME’s oversight of CME. On April 27, 2007, the leadership of the Senate Finance Committee wrote directly to the ACCME to elaborate on the comments and observations made in the report. (Please click here to view the letter from the Senate Finance Committee.)
The Senate Committee on Finance has provided the ACCME and the CME system with many face- and content-valid observations where enhancements could be implemented that would make the independence of CME from commercial interests more distinct. Since the development of the first version of the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support in the late 1980s, the ACCME has taken seriously its roles and responsibilities to set expectations about this independence of CME and to measure CME providers’ compliance with those expectations, especially in the presence of funds from commercial interests.
In this same spirit, the ACCME will reflect on the Senate Committee on Finance’s observations. The timing and process for this consideration matches well with the ACCME’s current process of review and assessment of the implementation of the 2004 ACCME Standards for Commercial Support: Standards to Ensure Independence. As these updated Standards are now in place across the CME system, the ACCME looks forward to determining where and how improvements to the accreditation policies and processes might strengthen the validity and independence of CME.
It is the ACCME’s firm belief that the current ACCME Standards for Commercial Support: Standards to Ensure Independence, integrated into the Updated Accreditation Criteria released in September 2006, are based on the right principles. We look forward to working in an open and transparent way with our accreditor colleagues and accredited providers to continue to demonstrate their full implementation and effectiveness.
As the ACCME considers any changes or improvements, we will keep the CME community and the public informed and will seek input where and when necessary. We believe the ACCME and the CME system are up to the challenge.