On the Carlat Psychiatry Blog, Dr Daniel Carlat reported an alternative take on the Macy Foundation report which called for the abolition of commercial funding of continuing medical education (CME). (See Dr Carlat's earlier post on this report here.)
In a seminar on medical ethics, Harvard University's Neurologist-in-Chief, Dr Martin Samuels, trashed the Macy report on the basis of, you guessed it, conflict of interest. He charged that one of the members of the conference that produced the Macy report was a top executive of UpToDate, a medical education and communication company (MECC) that makes its money by selling subscriptions, not from drug companies. Meanwhile, Dr Carlat also reported that Dr Samuels was praising yet another MECC, Pri-Med, for which he happens to direct a neurology course.
You can't tell the conflicts of interest without a scorecard. This story does seem to underline, in my humble opinion, the need to disclose all conflicts of interest, and the need to develop a structure for medical education (undergraduate, graduate, and continuing) that somehow avoids conflicts due to relationships with any organization, drug company, managed care organization, MECC, for-profit, not-for-profit, whatever that have vested interests other than discovering and disseminating the truth in a spirit of free enquiry (that is, the fundamental educational mission.)
We physicians also ought to remember the oaths we once swore, and stop trying to figure out clever deals to make more money on the side.
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