In a New York Times Op-Ed piece, Daniel Carlat, a professor at Tufts Medical School and editor in chief of The Carlat Psychiatry Report, characterizes pharma-sponsored Continuing Medical education (CME) as "a new twist on that well-known instrument of corruption, money laundering."
"[CME] content," says Carlat, "is rarely developed by the identified experts. Instead, it is developed by the undisclosed communication company, which is paid by the sponsoring pharmaceutical company."
"Everybody who stands to gain is complicit in this enterprise," says Carlat. "The companies get a uniquely effective marketing vehicle, the medical education communication companies (MECCs) get millions in educational grants, the ACCME gets funding to continue its mission, hired-gun physician speakers get cash, prestige, networking opportunities, impact, etc...., and the doctors who attend the programs get free education. Who in their right mind would want to spoil the party?
Our patients, for one. Industry-supported CME always downplays the dangers of any product being sponsored. Sometimes, these dangers are trivial, as in the case of SSRIs. Other times, these dangers include diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol, as in the case of Zyprexa.
The point is that we can never trust commercial CME, because of its inherent conflict of interest: it is education designed to encourage the audience to use more of the sponsor's product."