Report: Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bayer Favored in Wisconsin's Online CME

Last Updated Mar 30, 2009 2:29 PM EDT

Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline and Bayer have funded an online CME course at the University of Wisconsin that favors the prescription of their drugs and either plays down their efficacy or their side effects, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The online courses were in antismoking (Pfizer/Chantix), restless legs syndrome (Boehringer/Mirapex and GSK/Requip), and PMS (Bayer/Yaz).

As the JS puts it:

Those courses are free, while the university-funded courses require doctors to pay a fee.

... Drug companies spend about $13 million a year to fund UW medical education courses, and the university receives about 27%, or nearly $3 million of that money, according to records. The rest is going to private firms that put together the course materials.

... But beyond the inherent conflict posed by drug companies paying for courses that disseminate information about their products, the funding raises a larger question: Why shouldn't doctors pay for their own education?

It's not the first time the JS has bashed Pfizer for funding Wisconsin groups whose activities may, or may not, lead to increased sales of Chantix. BNET previously noted the JS's account of a medical director of a state-funded anti-smoking project who was on Pfizer's payroll as a speaker for Chantix.