Dispatch: ACCME Implements Physician Gag Rule

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The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the governing national organization responsible for accrediting medical education courses, recently announced a troubling new policy prohibiting physicians and researchers employed by the pharmaceutical industry from participating in medical education presentations or meetings, citing conflict of interest considerations.

The ban has elicited a whirlwind of criticism from prominent healthcare leaders. “It is a breathtaking sweep to squash something that is really important to us, the science going on in the private sector,” stated an angry Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.

ACCME received further backlash from ACSH trustee and Harvard Medical School professor Tom Stossel, who says, “The critics have, with rare exceptions, done nothing to contribute to education or innovation.”

Peter Pitts, president and co-founder of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, argues that the policy will hinder patient outcomes. “Do we really want to build the foundation of 21st century continuing medical education on the second best and the almost brightest?”

American Heart Association President Clyde Yancy was said to be aggressively appealing the policy after being told that it wouldn’t allow the group to feature industry speakers on the podium at the group’s big annual meeting later this year.

“This is not only a case of an anti-conflicts of interest policy gone too far, but it is also unbalanced, since it doesn’t equally ban those with anti-pharma interests, such as those associated with Public Citizen,” observes ACSH’s Jeff Stier.