GlaxoSmithKline is changing the way it funds medical education. According to a press release from the giant drug maker, starting in 2010 it will fund only independent medical education programs that are “clearly designed to close gaps in patient care, and that demonstrate support for the optimal performance of healthcare professionals.”
Medical education provides credits toward annual requirements doctors must meet to keep their training and medical license current. Critics of industry-funded medical education courses – especially those offered by commercial firms – say that the practice could influence doctors prescribing habits, and have charged that the courses sometimes highlight the funding companies’ medications over competitors. According to Reuters, pressure has been mounting in Congress and among some medical journal editors to limit the drug industry’s influence over doctors.
The change means Glaxo will immediately stop funding medical education programs developed by commercial medical education and communication companies. Under the new program, Glaxo will invite grant applications from approximately 20 academic medical centers and their affiliated teaching and patient care institutions, as well as national-level professional medical associations that represent healthcare professionals responsible for the delivery of patient care. All selected providers must be directly accredited by a recognized accrediting body, the company’s press release said.
Funding levels for each grant will depend on the quality, scope and complexity in closing the clinical gap identified by the provider. All proposals must have an objective, well documented assessment of the need for such a program, clear learning objectives and plans to assess the impact of the educational program on healthcare professional competence, performance, and improved patient health. All approved grants will continue to be posted on the company’s website, www.us-gsk.com.
The move will reduce the number of courses and seminars Glaxo funds, said Deirdre Connelly, Glaxo’s President North America Pharmaceuticals. “We want to enhance the quality of these programs,” Connelly said. “This is one more step in our efforts to be more transparent in the way we operate our business and interact with healthcare providers.”
Glaxo is just the latest medical firm to change its a policy involving medical education and research.