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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pets Welcome, Pharma Not at Oregon CME Event

The Oregon Academy of Family Physicians (OAFP) is hosting its 61st Annual CME Weekend at Salishan Spa and Golf Resort in Glendale Beach, OR this May. There'll be plenty of golf, tennis, beach activities, spa rejuvenation, wining and dining, kiting, and shopping at this "pet friendly" lodge, but pharmaceutical companies are verbotin!

A Deluxe Guestroom goes for a mere $165 per night and $195 for a Premier Guestroom. Even with the one-time additional charge of $25 per pet, this is a pretty sweet deal for a room such as the one shown below!

No Room at This Inn for Pharma!

As the program guide says, this event is "Pharma Free: The OAFP is 100% free of any pharmaceutical company funding or support. Consequently, this CME conference has dispensed with a traditional exhibit hall."

Presumably, what won't be free is the golf, tikki bar on the beach, and pet grooming! These CME bonuses are traditionally provided by pharma sponsors.

"...we felt we needed a clean house ourselves," said OAFP executive director Kelly Gonzales in an interview with Pharmalot. "Now, we feel we’re in a better position to confront them."
Won't OAFP take "a big hit by rejecting financial support?", asked Ed Silverman.

"We're going to find out," said Gonzales. "We're still putting on CME seminars, of course, but as I mentioned, not taking any unrestricted grants, so we’re looking for other financial support. But being pharma-free has actually proven to be a good selling point. We're attracting interest from some health plans and hospital systems, people we've not traditionally approached in the past. It's more work to get those sources, but there are also electronic medical records companies and insurance companies. So it's possible."
Yes, it's possible to put on "pharma-free" CME events, but is it profitable?

BTW, here's a question or two I have that Ed did not ask Gonzales (who I invite to respond to this post):
  1. Are the CME seminars themselves "Pharma-free"? Meaning, what are the ties of the presenters to the pharmaceutical industry?
  2. Are any attendees making their own deals for pharma-company honoraria to pay for their expenses? I assume this would make sense only if the pharma company also was sponsoring its own satellite symposia or tikki bar at the event.
Anyway, I applaud the concept since I have often wondered whether CME could be pharma-free (see, for example, "Free CME Without Direct Pharma Support: Is It Possible?"). Being pharma-free and free to attendees, however, may not be realistic. It would be interesting, therefore, to see how well this experiment works for OAFP and if it will spread to other physician organizations.

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