Canada has created new standards for industry involvement with accredited CME programs. Three professional organizations, including the College of Family Physicians of Canada and its counterpart for surgeons, have been responsible for sanctioning educational events for doctors in Canada. Previously, each organization was responsible for its own ethical standards on CME events, which resulted in significant variations across different parts of the country, for different events.
The new guidelines, known as the National Standard for Support of Accredited CPD Activities (the Standard) were developed with input from multiple Canadian physician organizations and committees, and apply in all situations where financial and in-kind support is accepted to contribute to the development, delivery and/or evaluation of accredited CPD activities.
Adherence to the Standard will be mandatory for approval of all accredited CPD activities included within the Canadian national/provincial CME/CPD accreditation systems for physicians. The standards of individual accrediting systems may be more stringent that the Standard, but may not be less stringent.
There will be a twenty-two month transition phase from March 1, 21016 in Canada to allow organizations to align to the new standard, which will officially launch on January 1, 2018. During the transition phase, stakeholders are encourage to become familiar with the Standard and prepare their own implementation plans to align their organization’s operating procedures. The new Standard will guide the ability of CPD providers and other stakeholders to: prevent commercial influence on CPD; outline a clearly defined role for sponsors of CPD activities; and standardize the development and delivery of CPD activities for both family and specialist physician audiences.
The Standard includes seven elements and twenty-nine sub-elements, including: Independence, Content Development, Conflict of Interest, Receiving Financing and In-Kind Support, Recognizing Financial and In-Kind Support, Managing Commercial Promotion, and Unaccredited CPD Activities. Some of the new Standards go beyond current Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) requirements, as outlined below.
New Canadian Standards
|Conflict of Interest/Disclosure of Relevant Commercial Interests||Must disclose all relationships with for-profit and not-for-profit organizations within the past two years||Within the past twelve months|
|Sponsors participation in CPD program decisions||Representatives of a sponsor or any organization hired by a sponsor cannot participate in decisions related to CPD program elements||Must ensure that decisions were made free of the control of a commercial interest.|
|CPD provider obligations||Must ensure that their interactions with sponsors meet professional and legal standards, including the protection of privacy, confidentiality, copyright, and contractual law regulations||No comparable obligations.|
|Unaccredited CPD activity listings||Unaccredited CPD activities cannot be listed or included within activity agendas, programs or calendars of events (preliminary and final)||No Comparable obligations|
|Content Development||Those who are responsible for developing or delivering content must be informed about: the identified needs of the target audience; the need to ensure that the content and/or materials presented provide (where applicable) a balanced view across all relevant options related to the content area; the intended learning objectives for the activity; ensuring that the description of therapeutic options utilize generic names (or both generic and trade names) and not reflect exclusivity and branding.||Similar to the Standards for Commercial Support™|
|Commercial Bias Requirements||The content or format of a CME activity or its related materials must promote improvements or quality in healthcare and not a specific proprietary business interest of a commercial interest||Similar to the Standards for Commercial Support™|
|CME Mission Statement||Not applicable.||ACCME requires that the provider have a mission statement that includes the expected results articulated in terms of competence, performance, or patient outcomes as a result of the program|
|Collaboration||Not applicable.||CME provider should build bridges with other stakeholders through collaboration and cooperation|
|Managing Commercial Promotion||Product-specific advertising, promotional materials, or branding strategies cannot be included on, appear within, or be adjacent to: any educational materials, slides, abstracts and handouts used as part of an accredited CPD activity; activity agendas, programs or calendars of events (preliminary and final); any webpages or electronic media containing educational material.||Product promotion material or product-specific advertisement of any type is prohibited in or during CME activities. Advertising and promotional materials may face the first or last pages of printed CME content as long as these materials are not related to the CME content they face and are not paid for by supporters of the CME activity.|