Given AMA's recent decision to slow down on CME reform, these new guidelines proposed by ACCME are more than welcome. The ACCME is focusing on the epicenter of commercial bias, which is the choice of topics to be covered in CME programs. As I have detailed in my last two posts, the cutting edge technique for ensuring that CME contains promotional content is to choose topics that are in line with the sponsor's commercial interests. The resulting course may be a scientifically accurate portrayal of a carefully pruned topic, showing no obvious "bias" within that topic area. But it is promotional nonetheless, just as drug company advertisements are promotional even though the FDA oversees them to ensure scientific accuracy.
The new guidelines will not allow MECCs to choose the topics; instead, they will chosen in consultation with relatively unbiased government agencies and medical societies. The one aspect of the "new paradigm" that is a head scratcher is the stipulation that CME be "free of bias." That's been a requirement for years, but has never been enforced. It appears that the organization has beefed up enforcement efforts--the say they have put 10% of providers on probation for breaches of their Standards of Commercial Support, up from 1% in the past.
We'll all have to stay tuned.