The following is a guest post by Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and a former FDA Associate Commissioner. The opinions expressed are his own.
As if Michigan didn’t already have enough economic troubles, here’s one more they can add to the list: last month, the University of Michigan announced that it will ban any industry sponsored continuing medical education (CME).
Why? In order “to dispel the risk or appearance of conflict of interest.” And from whom does the university feel it is necessary to distance themselves? From pharmaceutical and medical device companies who want to teach physicians about new and innovative medicines and technologies.
But in cash-strapped Michigan, where libraries are being shut and teachers are losing their jobs, the university can’t afford to reject any kinds of funding. In fact, the Fighting Wolverines currently receive about $1,000,000 for such services from drug and device manufacturers for continuing medical education.
The ban will also reduce the number of CME courses offered at the university. According to the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, the university produced 499 CME activities last year, which reached more than 130,000 physicians with important information about 21st century medical practice. The result will likely be less knowledge at a time when knowledge is power.