Last week I posted a tweet about Pfizer’s announcement that it is going to change the way it funds continuing medical education in the United States. I put the news out in a tweet, because I didn’t have time for a full posting at the time, but I think it merits some thought.
According to the press release issued by the company:
Pfizer will continue to support CME programs at many of the world’s leading academic medical centers and teaching hospitals, as well as programs sponsored by associations, medical societies and community hospitals, in keeping with the shared goal of improving public health.
Effective immediately, Pfizer is eliminating all direct funding for physician continuing medical education (CME) programs provided by medical education and communication companies (MECCs).
A Fleishman-Hillard colleague, Steve Walker, and I were talking about this and agreed that it signals a game change. Especially, given the mood on Capitol Hill, as noted many times here on Eye on FDA, things are about to change – dramatically (I am working on a White Paper on this very topic). I have said that, anticipating reform, pharma companies need to begin to move ahead of the curve. It is a corporate reputation issue and this move is but the latest example of Pfizer anticipating the curve and moving ahead of it.
For example, from a press release outlining major policy decisions by the company that I quoted in a previous posting:
Pfizer is committed to increasing transparency and disclosure of activities that relate to the public interest.
That means in a few years, there won’t be any company supporting CME in this way, and perhaps no company supporting CMEs at all. In fact, it may be the harbinger of a day when pharmaceutical funding of medical and professional societies to disappear. You can decide if that is a good, or a bad thing but you can probably bet that day is coming.