Life Science Compliance Update

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June 16, 2008

AMA CEJA – Back to the Drawing

Today the AMA House of Delegates soundly rejected the CEJA recommendations Report 1 of The Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs: Industry Support of Professional Education in Medicine and sent them back for further study and without objection.  This closes this chapter on the issue of funding for Continuing Medical Education.

Earlier in the day the Reference Committee on Amendments to Constitution and Bylaws, “recommended for referral” what was formerly identified as CEJA Report 1, so that it will not be presented on the house floor for a vote.

However, because the Reference Committee did not  “recommend for not adoption”,  CEJA can revise and (improve) their report for presentation at a later meeting as soon as this time next year.

We don’t believe however, given the strength of almost unanimous opposition to the recommendation, that this issue will come back to the House of Delegates anytime in the near future.

At the reference committee hearing on Sunday only two speakers spoke in favor of adoption of the report; the current CEJA chairman Mark Levine, MD (according to our sources he is retiring after this meeting) and one other physician who apparently speaks against everything given the opportunity. 

One interesting note, according to one source when Doctor Levine stood up at the support microphone to present the report, he told the Chairman of the reference committee Dr. Raymond Christenson, that he would not take up much time given all those who were behind him in favor of the proposal, at which the chairman noted, Dr. Levine there is no one behind you, so take your time.

Almost 40 individuals representing most of the major constituencies at the AMA, came to the microphone to speak out against this report. The First speaker was the President of the Organization of State Medical Association Presidents (OSMAP) speaking on behalf of the state medical associations, others from the Medical Student Section (MSS) (which gives us hope given the extreme stances that the American Medical Student’s Association has taken on issues similar to this one), The Minority Affairs Consortium (MAC), the National Medical Specialty Societies and many more.    John Kamp the executive director of the Coaltion for Healthcare Communications, noted conflicts of interest exist in all circumstances and that the treat of lawsuit by trial lawyers, creates a conflict of interest in physicians in the way they practice and ordering what tests.

One exceptionally compelling testimony came from the Edward Langston, MD, Chairman of the AMA Board of Trustees who gently urged Dr. Raymond Christensen, Chairman of the Reference Committee to “accept the Committees recommendation for referral” and by doing so “preserve the sanctity of CEJA” (largely because the report on which the recommendation was based, was so biased against any value to collaboration).

Thanks to all the groups who recognize the value of collaboration and took the effort to speak out against this report by working hard to develop very thoughtful positions on the issue. 

We wish Doctor Levine well in his retirement, and though we don’t agree with his proposed recommendations for change, we admire and share his commitment to improving the practice of medicine and dedication to patient care.

As we move on we need to recognize that the most important issue is that doctors learn and implement the most up to date medicine regardless of who supports it.

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