The true "revolution" was the astonishing sums of money the Academy was able to rake in. The initial rumors had it that companies were required to pony up a cool million for whatever indirect influence they were to receive. Eli Lilly's grant registry website reveals that in 2007, they gave a total of $1.65 million, in three separate installments. Several other companies signed on as well, so this was about an $8 million cash cow for somebody. But for whom? Primedia was farming out the CME work to obscure vendors, such as "Trinity Healthforce Learning" and "CM Communications Group." A year ago, I made some half-hearted efforts to email the people at these companies who were responsible for producing the CME, but I received no response. It now appears that "CM Communications Group" is defunct, or at least it has dropped its web presence.
At any rate, in an apparent effort to make the Psychiatry Academy seem less crassly commercial, MGH fired Primedia, and has announced a 25 year "strategic alliance" with Reed Elsevier, an eminent medical publisher. But again, nothing is exactly what it seems in a world where so much money is being processed and where perceived legitimacy is crucial to the institutions involved. Reed Elsevier is farming the CME work out to another division, called Reed Medical Education. Reed Medical Education specializes in organizing huge meetings in oncology and other topics, and posts this price list of different ways that drug companies can give them a whole lot of money to be a part of a single medical meeting. Being a "cornerstone supporter" costs $195,000, "foundation supporter," $135,000, "leadership supporter," $95,000, and so on. Lord only knows what degree of influence over the medical mind each level of support might provide. Nor do we have any idea what the new MGH Psychiatry Academy price list is--remember, the price list above was for one meeting, while the MGH program encompasses dozens of live meetings and more web-based programs.
At any rate, the new and improved MGH Psychiatry Academy's first brochure just arrived in my mail box, and the reputation clean-up operation has begun in earnest: there is no financial disclosure mentioned. Multiple CME symposia are advertised in various areas of psychiatry lucrative to industry, and yet there is no mention of industry support, and no mention of personal financial disclosures of any participating lecturers.
Pharmaceutical support of a psychiatry department at this level is embarrassing, and Reed Medical Education has come up with its own, elegant solution: no disclosure at all.