GSK's New MECC Ban Is Full of Holes, Says Carlat

Last Updated Sep 23, 2009 3:27 PM EDT

GlaxoSmithKline has tightened its rules for funding of continuing medical education, but psychiatrist blogger Daniel Carlat says the ban is full of holes. Carlat is conducting a jihad against CME, which he regards as a form of "money-laundering."

GSK banned funding of "medical education and comunication companies," or MECCs, which have come to be regarded as little more than pr agencies that specialize in focus groups with doctors. The company has also ceased its political donations. The moves come as part of GSK's ongoing transparency push.

GSK's press release says:

GSK will no longer fund CME by commercial providers including medical education and communication companies.
But Carlat says the ban has loopholes in that it still allows "co-sponsorship," where one of the remaining institutions that GSK will still fund can hire a MECC to create a CME course. GSK will continue to fund colleges and medical societies.

Carlat argues that far from being a ban on MECCs, GSK's new policy simply adds another figleaf to the operation and allows GSK to claim that its funding does not result in seminars that are biased toward its drugs. (He has a more in-depth view of GSK's MECC funding here, and notes that GSK is still soliciting grant recipients here.)