Author Insights: Drug and Device Companies Give Millions of Dollars to Groups Offering Online CME


Some medical communications companies such as Medscape/WebMD that offer online continuing medical education (CME) programs receive millions of dollars from pharmaceutical and device manufacturers and share information such as a physician’s licensing number and specialty with unnamed third parties, warn researchers whose findings appear today in JAMA.

In 2010, for the first time, 13 pharmaceutical companies and 1 medical device company posted grant registries on their websites, as a result of legal settlements in some cases and voluntarily in others. These registries included the names of health care organizations, including medical communication companies, that received at least 1 grant; the grant’s purpose; and the grant’s dollar amount. These postings go beyond the provisions of the Sunshine Act, which require reports of payments only to physicians and teaching hospitals.

A medical communications company was defined as an organization whose primary mission is to disseminate information about disease states, disease prevention…

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