"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," we might say, "especially if you don't have the money for it" ... The continuous education of doctors is financed by the industry (laboratories, medical technology companies) for various reasons. First and foremost, because the State has historically not had the means to finance it. But also because all this medical-scientific community has in congresses moments of communication, understanding of needs, which are very valuable. A system that had problems almost 20 years ago when the deontological code started being defined, is now very correct as both societies and pharma companies comment: focused on training, without frivolity and where scientific training is very free of commercial influences.
Now, the opinion of the Commission for Social and Economic Reconstruction calls for a ban on funding for continuing education for doctors by industry. If the idea that the State pays for continuous education is not shocking in itself, there are several problems. First a practical problem, just when the deficit explodes. Do we have to rejoice that the training of those who will take care of us happens to be managed from a bloodless state? Every year when budgets are made, will the training of doctors have the budget they need? We have already seen that the need for cuts could affect essential elements of our lives. The second reason is that the medical ecosystem (health, laboratories, etc.) has communication forums today that make it possible to better understand the needs of the entire chain. Separating is not necessarily a good idea.
Medical associations protest. Without surprise, the Federation of Spanish Scientific Medical Associations (FACME) has asked to reevaluate this proposal. FACME reminds us that a large part of the funding for this training has been possible thanks to the support of the pharmaceutical and healthcare technology industries. If this measure is to be implemented, "it must have been previously guaranteed the existence of sufficient public funds to continue offering this training."
Also remember that the current system allows doctors to choose their training according to their needs, so they ask that the accessibility of professionals and their own training needs be respected, independently of those raised by administrations.
Facme also recalls that "until now, it has been the health administration that has not assumed its legal obligation to finance continuing education, having delegated it to the biosanitary industry, which has made much of the training of doctors possible." FACME also recalls that the Code of Good Practice ensures maximum transparency and correctness in the relations between health and laboratories.
Farmaindustria as well. The association of the main pharma companies in the country states that “the collaboration of the pharmaceutical industry with organizations and healthcare professionals and patient associations is necessary, legitimate and transparent. This cooperation contributes to scientific societies and other scientific-professional organizations holding meetings and congresses that allow health professionals to be up-to-date. The high scientific level and the widespread recognition of the high training of health professionals in Spain shows the value of this collaboration”.
Farmaindustria also reminds that this prohibition "would go against the freedom of business and private initiative, principles enshrined in the Constitution, in addition to being a common practice in other European countries, and, in the case of support for the training of health professionals, are supported by the European regulations, which provides for this type of cooperation by pharmaceutical companies ”.
Farmaindustria adds that these collaborations are carried out within a framework of transparency. “Pharmaceutical companies make public all the supports they provide, so that society knows them and can understand their value, in addition to avoiding potential conflicts of interest and ensuring that cooperation occurs with complete independence on all sides. This commitment to transparency, pioneering and unparalleled in other sectors, has been recognized by public institutions, such as the Transparency and Good Governance Council and the National Commission of Markets and Competition, and private ones, such as Transparency International Spain and the Council of the Spanish Bar. It is included in the Code of Good Practices of the Pharmaceutical Industry, self-regulation of obligatory compliance for pharmaceutical companies, and it has a Deontological Supervision Unit that watches over its compliance”.
Foro MICE alerts of the effect on congresses
Finally, in our sector, the MICE Forum, which gathers the main industry associations, has published a statement warning of the devastating effect that this measure could have in congresses. We will all keep paying attention to a measure that can be terrible in the life of the events sector and in continuous medical training.
It remains to be seen if this bad idea is upheld in law. It would seem absurd, and several professionals have expressed their confidence in us taking into account the effects that this measure could have on the budget and on continuous training... but we will certainly have to be vigilant.