The Finance Committee of the U.S. Senate issued a report on April 25, 2007 on pharmaceutical manufacturers’ use of educational grants.
The press release from Committee Chairman Max Baucus says that risks exist for kickbacks, veiled advertising of drugs, efforts to bias clinical protocols and off-label promotion. “This report shows some separation between medical education and marketing efforts, but this process still isn’t clean enough,” said Baucus. “As long as drug companies’ medical education efforts can influence Medicare and Medicaid spending, the Finance Committee has to insist that there be more improvement.”
The report reviewed the practices of the 23 largest pharmaceutical manufacturers.
According to the report, drug companies spent a total of about $1 billion on continuing medical education sponsorship in 2004 and that they routinely fund programs that favorably discuss their newer and more lucrative products. The report concluded that “[t]here is a risk that physicians will allow favorable drug messages learned in an educational context to change their clinical practices to favor use of those drugs, without critically appraising the evidence or fully assessing information from other sources.”