Testifying at a Senate hearing, Eric Nissen, head of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, called for the Accreditation Council of Continuing Medical Education, or ACCME, to be replaced by another group or method that could do a better job of preventing industry influence on continuing medical education.
“The ACCME has been ineffective and it needs to be replaced by something else,” Nissen told the Special Committee on Aging during a hearing addressing conflicts of interest in medical education.
Held by committee Chairman Herb Kohl, (D-Wis.), the hearing explored whether the ACCME’s current industry-sponsorship regulations do enough to prevent medical-products companies from influencing the content of medical-education curriculums. Nissen, who said his testimony was not intended to represent the Cleveland Clinic, noted that spending on continuing medical education has grown from $880 million annually in 1998 to $2.5 billion in 2007. Fifty percent of that funding currently comes from medical-products companies, he said.
Murray Kopelow, chief executive of the ACCME, defended his organization’s record, saying that while the group’s board decided in March that it would not take action to end commercial support of continuing medical education, it was developing an enhanced monitoring system for detecting violations of the requirement that educational forums be free of sponsor input. “We’ve also started this month to publicize when a CME provider takes money from industry,” Kopelow said.