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Funding for Medical Communication Firms Analyzed

May receive substantial support from pharmaceutical, medical device companies

TUESDAY, Dec. 17, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Medical communication companies (MCCs), responsible for medical education programs, may receive substantial financial support from pharmaceutical and medical device companies, according to research published in the Dec. 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Sheila M. Rothman, Ph.D., from Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2010 grant registries of 14 pharmaceutical and device companies to create a master list of 19,272 grants. Recipients were grouped into categories including MCCs, academic medical centers, disease-targeted advocacy organizations, and professional associations.

The researchers found that there were 6,493 recipients of more than $657 million grant awards from drug and device companies. More than 26 percent of the money was received by 18 of 363 MCCs. Academic medical centers received 21 percent of grants and disease-targeted organizations received 15 percent. More than three-quarters of the MCC grant awards (77 percent) were received by for-profit MCCs (208 of 363). Of the top 5 percent of MCCs, 14 of 18 were for-profit, with all 18 offering continuing medical education. All 18 of these MCCs required physicians to provide personal data and 10 reported sharing this information with unnamed third parties. While eight companies said they did not share information, almost all had exceptions. Explicit physician consent for sharing policies was not required by any of the MCCs.

"Medical communication companies receive substantial support from drug and device companies," the authors write.

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