Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Medscape has been accused of participating in an off label promotion scheme

---through its CME offerings. I want to offer some perspective before the blogosphere blows it out of proportion. First, although documents related to the whistleblower suit have been unsealed the essential facts are not known. Even Merrill Goozner, himself a critic of industry supported CME, after doing some digging, acknowledged that we don’t know what Medscape is supposed to have done wrong:

So what did the complaint accuse Medscape of doing wrong? Nothing -- or nothing that I could read.

Is anything illegal even implied? Off label mention of drugs in CME courses is not illegal, nor is it considered unethical in and of itself (the only requirement being that off label mention of drugs be disclosed). Promotion under cover of CME is biased but not illegal. The whole question of conspiracy may hinge on intent, and only internal documents will reveal whether it occurred. I say let the court decide and if the law was broken those responsible should face the consequences.

This unfortunate episode will bolster faulty arguments for a ban on industry support. Instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater (by killing off Bob Wachter’s Hospital Medicine Course and downsizing professional society conferences) why not find a way to give ACCME the oversight and resources it needs to do its job?

Via Kevin MD

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