Drug company grants for medical education under scrutiny

The Senate Finance Committee has released a report on drug company grants for medical education. The committee, chaired by Sen. Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.), is investigating allegations that such grants are used for improper purposes. The report suggests that some “independent” educational programs may still be susceptible to excessive influence by pharmaceutical sponsors, and that the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education’s (ACCME) oversight is insufficient to guarantee independence. In a subsequent letter to ACCME President Murray Kopelow, Baucus and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) faulted the accreditation process itself, including the absence of content monitoring by ACCME of programs of accredited providers, the standards of compliance ACCME requires, and the extent to which instances of noncompliance are tolerated.