Continuing Medical Education (CME): Association of Clinical Researchers and Educators Calls Out Flawed JAMA Study

The following is taken from a press release from the Association of Clinical Researchers and Educators

This week the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a “brief report” and editorial on medical communications companies and industry grants. This paper is reminiscent of the parental admonition of “do as I say, not as I do”.  In the article, the authors comment that in 2010 private medical communications companies received $100 million from industry.  According to the AMA annual report, in 2010 JAMA, a subsidiary of AMA, received over $25 million in advertising revenue.  Both JAMA and the medical communications companies receive funds from the pharmaceutical industry.

In addition, we found several errors in the report and editorial:

Inclusion of foundation funds and nonprofit giving in the aggregate, citing industry websites to assess  that medical communication companies received over $100 million in industry support;

Alluding that current practice includes paying physician attendees travel at accredited events  for resorts like Maui when that practice has, for many years been strictly prohibited;

The citation of the rationale of the January 2007 study by the Senate Finance Committee Report, rather than the conclusion of the study, which runs counter to the arguments of the authors. The Committee report found that, “the pharmaceutical industry is paying increased attention to educational grants and its compliance with fraud and abuse laws,” and that “major drug companies have limited the direct involvement of field sales representatives and sales and marketing departments in the educational grant-making process.”

Two of the organizations listed in their report and portrayed as Medical Communications Companies are not-for-profit foundations and do not operate as medical education companies;

Misrepresenting Medical Education Companies who receive educational grants from manufacturers and are regulated by the ACCME with Medical Communications Companies who are regulated by FDA and work directly for manufacturers;

Disparaging the data policies of medical education companies as sharing data with 3rd parties as unique when in fact JAMA’s own policy includes sharing data with undisclosed 3rd parties.

ACRE requests JAMA to severely edit or withdraw the articles due to factual errors and omissions.

The credibility at JAMA is at stake. The editor should be held responsible for such glaring errors on the report and the subsequent editorial.

The JAMA research paper shows that pharmaceutical companies give a proportionate number of grants to private providers of education, which, in fact is similar to the practice of the US government which awards  grants to private companies to provide education

We believe that private medical education companies can help to bring cutting edge clinical science to our practitioners.  Recently, the FDA recognized accredited CME as a valuable way of reaching today’s busy physicians.  Those who make their living support efforts to educate physicians should be praised for their work, not discredited by ivory tower academics.

We believe that placing doubt in the mind of physicians over disclosure policies like those of JAMA is unproductive and creates concern and confusion relating to the application of valuable information.

Founded in 2009, the Association of Clinical Researchers and Educators is a collection of academic and private practice physicians and researchers dedicated to promoting innovation in modern medicine.

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