Patt Morrison for June 25, 2010

Are doctors too close to Big Pharma?

Mercer 8384

Christopher Furlong

Pharmaceutical companies may no longer be allowed to fund doctors' education

The University of Michigan Medical School says it will no longer take money from drug makers to pay for coursework that’s required for doctors renewing their medical licenses. Commercial financing for postgraduate medical education, known as Continuing Medical Education (CME), has recently come under increased scrutiny by academics, medical associations, ethicists and lawmakers for its potential to push products over patients’ health or interests. Commercial industry currently covers about half the cost of CME courses nationwide, amounting to about $1 billion. Shunning pharmaceutical industry money could mean higher course fees for doctors but do companies face an inherent conflict of interest by footing the bill? The answer could create a schism among some of the nation’s highest profile docs.


Art Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Bernard Lo, lead author of a 2008 Institute of Medicine report on conflicts of interest

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