For immediate release
July 16, 2015
UNITE HERE to Deliver Petitions Calling for End of Big Pharma Influence on Continuing Medical Education Activities
CHICAGO, IL – UNITE HERE will deliver thousands of petitions to the Accrediting Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) board meeting in Chicago on July 16. Patients, doctors, and members of the public can still sign the petition at NoMoreDrugMoney.org. Copies of the petition signatures will also be delivered to leading medical organizations and doctors in cities around the country.
The petition calls on ACCME to change the rules and eliminate pharmaceutical industry funding from Continuing Medical Education (CME) events. Many patients, including large medical facilities, are concerned that financial relationships can influence what a doctor prescribes. Congress is currently debating a bill that could allow doctors to take more gifts from drug companies behind closed doors.
“CME should stand for Commercial Marketing Efforts,” said Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD. Director of PharmedOut, a Georgetown University Medical Center Project that promotes rational prescribing. “Industry-funded CME promotes the use of expensive drugs by promoting diseases, some of which have been invented by drug companies.”
Doctors had $6.49 billion in financial relationships with drug companies in 2014, compared to only $3.53 billion reported in the Open Payments database in 2013. The ACCME 2014 Annual Report shows that out of $2.5 billion in total CME spending, $675 million of that came from Big Pharma. That number increased from $659 million in 2013.
Stanford University banned pharmaceutical industry funding of CME events in 2008. A statement on the Stanford website reads: “The School of Medicine will no longer accept support from pharmaceutical or device companies for specific programs in continuing medical education, as industry-directed funding may compromise the integrity of education programs for physicians…”
Dr. Thomas Gildea, a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic, is co-chairing an annual navigational bronchoscopy summit in Las Vegas at Station Casinos (Green Valley Ranch Hotel and Casino). He took $27,801 in general payments from drug companies in 2014.
Dr. Barbara McAneny, an oncologist and American Medical Association board member, took over $10,000 from pharmaceutical companies between 2013 and 2014. In 2013, she had investments in drug companies worth $434,888.00, and in 2014, she had investments in drug companies worth $217,444.00. All reported stock holdings were in RT Oncology Services Corporation.
UNITE HERE is concerned about ballooning costs for its members’ healthcare plans. Prescription drugs, devices, and biologicals are a major factor in rising healthcare costs and the union is concerned doctors may be unduly influenced by contributions from Big Pharma to prescribe more expensive drugs when more affordable, generic alternatives are available.
CME activities are a vital source of revenue and jobs in the hospitality industry. UNITE HERE has communicated broadly with leaders in medical industry about best practices for supporting good hospitality jobs. UNITE HERE understands working with the medical industry will help improve the quality of healthcare for workers and their families across the nation.
UNITE HERE represents 270,000 workers in North America who work in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries.