Spanish campaign endorsing independent medical education and training gains momentum.
December 14, 2010
Spanish doctors and medical students have joined together to launch a campaign to reduce industry involvement in the financing of continuing medical education and research. There’s a need for more transparent relationships between doctors and industry, say No Gracias, a group formed by the Federation of Associations for the Defence of Public Health, and Farmacriticxs, a group created by the Spanish branch of International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations.
“Many doctors are starting to get tired of the pharmaceutical, food and technology industries' aggressive marketing, and are aware of the techniques that pave the way to the medicalization of society, with the invention of diseases, disease mongering, and its harmful effects on health. This makes many doctors and students highly critical of the activities sponsored by industries/corporations, which sometimes are obscene in its double intention of ‘selling’ scientific ‘no-truths’ and promoting excessively ‘intimate’ relationships,”, writes Dr Juan Gérvas, a Spanish general practitioner and promoter of the movement, in an email.
The campaign also hopes to promote sponsorship-free activities under a common label, in a similar manner to the European sustainable development movement (www.blueflag.org). Included in their platform are such plans as ones to promote “industrial smoke-free” spaces like primary health care centres, hospitals, and medical schools.
“As future professionals, to plan and build real alternatives is for us the only way to work towards education, research and professional performance that is independent, free and has quality. Showing a coherent opposition within our group is undoubtedly the first step of many,” says June Udaondo, one of the coordinators of the medical student arm of the campaign.
More than 60% of financial support for continuing medical education and continuous professional development programs in Europe comes from industry, according to a presentation by Bernard Maillet, secretary general of the European Union of Medical Specialists (www.europeancmeforum.eu). But Maillet writes in an email that the actual amount is unclear. “There are no clear data on this issue but it is assumed that the amounts are similar to the US [United States],” he writes.
Measuring industry’s financial support for continuing medical education is a complex task, explains Eugene Pozniak, programme director of the European CME Forum, in an email. “While in the USA and Canada the lines of demarcation between education and promotion is very clear, in Europe it is not. At one end of the spectrum we have ‘pure’ CME, and at the other, Pharma-driven medical education. ... I estimate that about 5% of accredited European CME programmes are supported by Pharma.”
“What needs to be agreed and clarified is a definitive distinction between promotion and (independent) education, the permitted role of each type of organisation, and who controls and regulates each bit — with rules and sanctions in place,” Pozniak adds.