As a CME provider accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), we, the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, must ensure balance, independence, objectivity and scientific rigor in all CME activities we sponsor. The content and format of CME activities should address the educational needs of physicians and, ultimately, promote improvement in the quality of health care. Therefore, we must make certain that all CME activities and materials are free of commercial bias and do not advance the financial interests of any commercial entity or individual instructor.
To that end, we require all prospective faculty and planners of a CME activity to disclose in advance any financial relationships they have with the commercial supporters of an activity or with any commercial entity whose products or services may be discussed in that activity. Such information ultimately is shared with prospective learners. During the process of planning a CME program, the accredited sponsor and, when applicable, its educational partner, use that information to determine if prospective faculty members and course planners have financial interests which may, in the context of a given CME activity, present a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest exists when an individual has an opportunity to affect CME content regarding the products, services or devices of a commercial interest with which the individual has a financial relationship. Such relationships do not necessarily prohibit an individual from participating in a CME activity; however, they do require the CME provider to actively reconcile potential conflicting interests, as mandated by the ACCME.
There are various ways to resolve these conflicts, and, because we are committed to retaining faculty members whose skills, expertise and reputation are vital to the success of our CME activities, we make every effort to identify conflicts and reach a resolution that honors our accreditor’s requirements as well as the interests of the learners. When a prospective faculty member discloses a significant relationship, the CME provider and its planning partner assess how that relationship might affect the content of an activity or compromise its objectivity. We then develop educational objectives for that faculty member’s presentation, allowing for a discussion that may include, for example, a review of current literature, recent clinical trial data, evidence-based application of that data, the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of particular disease states, and the mechanics or pharmacokinetics of devices or agents; but prohibiting discussions that include specific therapeutic recommendations that are inconsistent with the best available evidence or have not been subjected to peer-review or presentations of selective data which favor therapeutic agents or devices manufactured by a commercial entity that is supporting a CME activity or with whom a speaker has a financial relationship. As part of the process of ensuring compliance with conflict of interest regulations, the CME provider will, when appropriate, review prospective course materials prepared by faculty members. The intent is not to challenge the faculty member’s scientific expertise, but, rather to make certain that slides and handout materials do not contain trade names or references that might, in the context of that presentation, create the appearance of bias in favor of a particular product or proprietary therapeutic regimen.
We are aware that context is one of the major considerations, when assessing potential conflicts of interest. A speaker may have a significant relationship with a particular commercial entity or make references that, out of context, might create an appearance of bias. If we were to determine, however, that in the context of the activity, the relationship has no inherent bearing on the content or the references are integral to the learners’ educational experience, we would consider the potential conflict resolved. The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine is committed to resolving all potential conflicts of interest. However, if a faculty or planning committee member has substantial financial interests that cannot be reconciles with the goals and integrity of the CME activity, we reserve the right to prohibit that individual from participating in the activity.
This policy was reviewed and approved by the UC College of Medicine Advisory Committee at its meeting of October 25, 2005.