Banning industry sponsorship of CME has wide ranging repercussions

Should drug and device makers fund continuing medical education courses?

That’s a question medical schools and academic medical centers have recently been grappling over.

Now, the University of Michigan has taken the controversial step to completely divorce the industry from physician education.

According to the New York Times,

the University of Michigan Medical School has become the first to decide that it will no longer take any money from drug and device makers to pay for coursework doctors need to renew their medical licenses …

… Dr. James O. Woolliscroft, dean of Michigan’s medical school, said leading faculty members “wanted education to be free from bias, to be based on the best evidence and a balanced view of the topic under discussion.”

But not everyone’s happy about this trend. The American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health, for instance, are opposed, saying, “it would unfairly cut physicians off from scientific knowledge.”

Those on the other side say that industry sponsored courses are biased, and sway doctors towards more expensive therapies that may not be always necessary.

Whatever the case, if the industry doesn’t support CME, doctors and medical schools are going to have to pay for it. That means higher course fees for doctors — which will hurt physicians who do not have a CME-allotment as part of their benefits.

Medical societies also won’t be happy, as their conferences will be more expensive to run.

There has to be a solution short of a total ban, because with the CME industry a billion dollar business, there’s simply too much money at stake.

 is an internal medicine physician and on the Board of Contributors at USA Today.  He is founder and editor of, also on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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