english.prescrire.org > Spotlight > Archives : 2009 > Continuing education: he who pays the piper calls the tune

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Continuing education:
he who pays the piper calls the tune

Pharmaceutical companies make no secret of the fact that they invest in continuing education for health professionals so as to influence their practice. It is up to health professionals to refuse such compromises.

Too many health professionals are happy to update their knowledge by attending "continuing education" events sponsored by pharmaceutical companies or reimbursed by the national health insurance system. And yet the pharmaceutical companies make no secret of their commercial agenda, as this recent quote from one company executive illustrates: "companies will never be content with being purely financial partners in continuing education programmes for health professionals". And he adds that, if firms were to be prohibited from being involved in continuing education, then so should the national health insurance system which "also has an economic and financial stake".

It is clear that he who pays the piper calls the tune, whether it is a pharmaceutical company or a health insurer. How far are healthcare professionals prepared to make concessions to interests that are not those of their patients?

Congratulations to the many healthcare professionals who refuse to compromise on the issue of independence, choosing self-funded training that is free from influence and serves patients' best interests.

©Prescrire February 2009

Source: "Concession(s) perpetuelle(s)" Rev Prescrire 2009; 29 (303): 1.

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