Senate investigates pharma influence on CME

An investigation by the Senate Finance Committee has concluded that drug makers are using their financial clout to improperly influence Continuing Medical Education programs. The investigation also found that the pharmas were promoting drugs for off-label uses, an illegal practice which could land them in hot water with federal regulators. The Senate report said that about one-quarter of CME program providers have violated standards set by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education designed to limit pharmaceutical companies' influence on doctors. While the drug industry has been working to make sure its educational grants comply with federal law, there are still many opportunities for them to offer kickbacks, bias clinical trials, promote off-label uses and advertise medications. Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) say they're concerned that the FDA and the Accreditation Council have not been more aggressive in monitoring pharma relationships with CME providers.

To get more information on the investigation:
- see the survey results on pharma influence
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report item