Stanford University's decision to curtail drug and medical device company financing of its continuing medical education (CME) programs is a major step toward ensuring doctors practice medicine based on science, not marketing plans.
In announcing the new policy medical school Dean Philip Pizzo said:
“I want to be able to honor the public trust. We want CME to be unbiased and science-driven, and we don’t want it to be influenced by marketing. We want our educational activities for whomever we are serving—whether it’s our own faculty or our colleagues in the community, locally or globally—to be true to the science and the evidence, and not be influenced by any kind of financial industry support.”
CME programs are supposed to keep physicians current in their fields. Often they are legally required for them to remain licensed to practice medicine. In fact many of the CME programs have become marketing vehicles for drug and medical device companies, as the firms have controlled the content of the courses they fund.
Back in 1998 industry funding for CME totaled $302 million nationwide. It soared to $1.2 billion in 2006.
You don't think they'd be doing this unless they were getting something in return, do you?
Stanford joins another California medical school, UC Davis in curtailing industry funding of CME. Right now there are four other schools with similar policies -- the universities of Massachusetts, Pittsburgh, Colorado and Kansas.
The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News all covered Stanford's announcement and it is a big deal.
It's also a necessary step to ending a healthcare system dominated by corporate marketing agendas.