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CME DINNER MEETINGS: UP TO THREE-QUARTERS OF PHYSICIANS WOULD ATTEND

Executive Summary

CME DINNER MEETINGS: UP TO THREE-QUARTERS OF PHYSICIANS WOULD ATTEND continuing medical education dinner meetings that do not provide cash honoraria, according to the results of several polls conducted by the peer influence marketing group Curry, Martin and Palazzole. In a series of surveys conducted by the firm, 55%-76% of survey respondents said they would still attend CME dinner symposia held by the marketing group even "if the companies who sponsor these meetings were forced to discontinue the $ 100 honorarium and substitute another form of incentive." Since the American Medical Association's new ethics guidelines prohibiting the use of cash honoraria were adopted in December ("The Pink Sheet" Dec. 17, p. 10), Curry, Martin and Palazzole has conducted four surveys "to elicit [physician] preferences for non- cash honoraria" and "to determine physician's attitudes toward the future attendance at [the firm's] meetings." The company's first survey, a pilot study of 833 doctors attending the company's symposia early this year, showed that 76% of the physicians would continue to attend meetings without a cash incentive. A larger group of 1,375 physician attendees, asked a slightly reworded question would "you continue to attend meetings that are relevant to your professional interests" without cash honoraria also answered "yes" 76% of the time. Two mail surveys conducted by Curry, Martin & Palazzole in early March indicate that a majority of physicians are willing to forego cash incentives for other forms of compensation. Of the 3,352 general practitioners, family practitioners, and various specialists surveyed in the firm's largest study, 1,933, or 55%, said they would attend meetings with alternative honoraria. An additional 329 doctors, or 9%, of the respondents, gave equivocal answers like "maybe" or "depends." A pilot mail study of 43 dermatologists got similar responses, with 56% of physicians surveyed expressing a willingness to accept non-cash honoraria. Curry, Martin and Palazzole experimented with several different kinds of non-cash honoraria since the adoption of the AMA guidelines, but eventually adopted a strategy of providing doctors with a "a menu of honoraria options" allowing the physician to choose among several educational or charitable gifts. Other peer influence marketing firms also have introduced alternative honoraria to continue to attract business ("The Pink Sheet" May 13, T&G-1). AMA is working on a clarification of the ethical guidelines that will address some of the alternative honoraria. One trend among surveyed respondents, according to the president of the firm Sam Palazzole, "is the dissatisfaction of physicians with Senator Kennedy's accusations which implied that dinner meetings influenced their prescribing behavior. A lot of doctors are angry with the AMA and Kennedy." Curry Martin and Palazzole is a three-year old Glen Rock, N.J. firm specializing in "interactive scientific meetings" focusing on new pharmaceutical products and medical procedures. Most of the firm's meetings involve presentations of clinical trial data, delivered to groups of 12 or 15 physicians and a complementary dinner. The firm conducts approximately 2,000 symposia each year and estimates that approximately 30,000 physicians attend their events annually.
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