It is unusual for the New York Times, or any other national news organization for that matter, to focus industry-funded CME. With examples of corrupted business practice everywhere, this particular little slice of corruption is easily glossed over. But Duff Wilson, in today's NYT business section, does a good job of covering the issue, and the big paper's attention has apparently done what nobody else has been able to accomplish--convincing the ACCME to finally publish its Rogue's Gallery of MECCs found guilty of commercial bias.
The article is centered on a little gem put out by CME Outfitters called "Atypical Antipsychotics in Major Depressive Disorder: When Current Treatments Are Not Enough." Funded by AstraZeneca, it is an elaborate commercial urging psychiatrists to use more atypical antipsychotics as adjunctive treatment of major depression.
Bernard Carroll, a psychiatrist and blogger for Health Care Renewal, complained about the program (see his post here) and while it took ACCME nine months, they eventually agreed that the program was biased in that it "lacked sufficient information about possible adverse effects of treatment with atypical antipsychotic drugs; and failed to emphasize sufficiently the efficacy of alternative treatments."
Apparently CME Outfitters has taken the program off its website, but never fear, I've managed to get ahold of the slides and have published the pdf on Scribd here.
The interesting thing is that while this course certainly is commercially biased in favor of atypicals, it is hardly the most blatant example of commercial bias I've seen. In fact, if you go right now over to the new activities area of CME Outfitters (called "neuroscience CME"), you'll find a entire series of "CME snacks" on the "Complex Presentations of Sleep Wake Dysfunction," each of which is a mini-commercial for Provigil and Nuvigil brought to you by Cephalon, which markets a vastly lucrative alertness drug empire.
My point being that if the Atypical Antipsychotic program is bad enough to be pulled for commercial, my conservative estimate is that at least half, probably more, of all industry funded psychiatry CME will also need the retraction treatment. The problem is, who on earth has the time to police these things? Certainly not ACCME. Dr. Carroll and I try to keep on top of the worst of the worst, but we have other things to do in order to make a living. The best and simplest solution would be to end industry funding of medical education altogether.