A few months ago, Jim Giles, a science writer for the New Scientist and Nature, called me out of the blue to ask about my opinions on drug industry-funded CME. I gave him my usual earful, and mentioned a preliminary study on CME bias that I presented at the American Psychiatric Association meeting two years ago. He asked to see the raw data, meaning the ghost-written CME articles, and it impressed me that he took this level of interest. The result is this article published in this week's issue of Nature.
The bottom line is that in 14/15 articles I reviewed, the sponsored drug received the highest number of favorable mentions. That may not be terribly surprising, but it is evidence of commercial bias, which is not allowed by ACCME standards of commercial support.
Giles is right that the instrument I used, called the Commercial Bias Inventory (CBI), has not been tested for reliability, but I'm now working with two psychiatrist colleagues, Ingrid Li at Tufts and Robert Kelley at Cornell, to validate the CBI. Once it's validated, we're going to blindly rate a number of CME articles and report our findings. If anyone else out there is interested in collaborating with us in this research, let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org).