The ACCME just released a Q&A about their recently announced policy prohibiting commercial interest logos in disclosure of commercial support. This policy change has been much buzzed about in CME circles and has the distinction of being one of the few things that both pharma-free CME and industry-supported CME advocates can agree on — they both hate it.
Maybe I’m just irritable about the unseasonably cool weather we’ve been having in the northeast or maybe I’m grumpy that the Phillies haven’t had a decent bullpen since 2008, but somehow, I disagree with everybody.
A major focal point for those against the logo-banning is the issue of transparency — or lack thereof — which I find kind of baffling. First, most CME providers I know have no interest in hiding the source of funding for their activities. Why would they? They eventually would like to get more funding to produce more activities, so why would they want to annoy the funder by burying their acknowledgement in the fine print? That makes no sense. Second, while a corporate logo is certainly more obvious than a plain text name, it’s not that hard to format the text so it stands out more. Use a bigger font or make it bold or use all caps or print it in purple. It’s not that hard. This seems like a weak argument to me.
On the other hand, I don’t really see the point of the logo prohibition in the first place. I don’t understand why it’s OK to list the name of the commercial supporter, but not their corporate logo. There’s not much difference.
Take away the blue circle and change the font and they’re exactly the same.
To me, it looks like what’s really being banned is window dressing, which, I mean, if that’s what you’re going for, then, mission accomplished. Is it “continuing the separation of promotion from education”, the stated reason for the policy? I don’t know. I never really thought of having a commercial supporter’s logo in a syllabus as promotion. It’s just an acknowledgement of their financial contribution. It seems perfectly reasonable to me to use a logo to acknowledge financial support without assuming the company behind that logo is influencing the content within. Every summer I go watch the Phillies play at Citizen’s Bank Park, but I don’t assume that a representative from Citizen’s Bank is helping Ryne Sandberg fill out his line-up card (though maybe they should). I fail to see how swapping out a logo for text makes much of a difference. It’s just one more rule for me to keep track of.