Why is independent CPE important?
A significant amount of research has been done evaluating the impact of pharmaceutical industry-provided CPE on doctor’s prescribing patterns. The research has consistently found that the rate of drug prescriptions by physicians increases substantially after they attend industry-sponsored seminars (Wazana, 2000). Additionally, the acceptance of small gifts such as free meals or subsidised accommodation or travel costs has been found to be associated with positive physician attitudes towards pharmaceutical representatives and their companies, as well as an unconscious impulse to reciprocate (Brennan et al., 2006).
Importantly, the majority of doctors did not believe that industry-provided CPE, acceptance of free gifts, or subsidisation of conference costs would bias their prescribing patterns (Rutledge et al., 2003).
Over the past decade, there has been a strong push to separate the pharmaceutical industry from CPE within the medical profession (Relman, 2001). The naturopath and Western herbalist professions have been lagging behind in this regard, but this is beginning to change.