Big Pharma's Getting Back Together with Medical Education

Nine out of ten global pharma teams provide funding for accredited CME

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC--(Marketwired - October 20, 2016) - Despite a tenuous past relationship, the pharmaceutical industry is getting back together with continuing medical education (CME) events, according to new research published this week by business intelligence firm Cutting Edge Information.

The pharmaceutical industry's affiliation with medical education events has waxed and waned through the decades, often shifting as regulations changed. But after years of decreased involvement and financial support for CME programs, Cutting Edge Information's analysis shows that 91% of global teams responsibilities' include providing funding for accredited CME. Furthermore, at the country-level, 89% or surveyed corporate teams supported CME events. However, all US medical education teams claimed responsibility for this same activity.

According to a new study, Medical Education: Innovating CME to Improve Patient Outcomes, the medical education team's geographic location plays a large role in determining the CME activities for which it is responsible. For example, all surveyed US medical education teams are responsible for providing grants for independent medical education.

Along similar lines, company-driven medical education is governed under promotional speaking event standards in the US, so the medical education team may often be under a company's commercial organization. As a result, only 11% of surveyed US medical education teams are responsible for planning company-driven medical education events, and very few recruit or train educational speakers as well.

"In most cases, life sciences companies provide funding or grants to third parties, who eventually put together the CME event without any company collaboration," said Natalie DeMasi, research team leader at Cutting Edge Information. "In contrast, company-driven medical education are programs created and organized by the company."

At the global level, however, the structure and regulations may be different. A top 10 company's global team reported that both CME funding and unaccredited medical education fall under medical affairs. This same company said that its global team does not have a separate speaker bureau group to maintain relationships with possible thought leader presenters. Product type influences these factors. For blockbuster products – and especially those in large therapeutic areas, such as cardiology – speaker bureaus may be more necessary to maintain all the speaker relationships.

Medical Education: Innovating CME to Improve Patient Outcomes, available at, includes detailed metrics, best practices and insights into four main areas of medical education:

  • Unaccredited, company-driven medical education
  • Independent medical education (IME) grants
  • Speaker recruitment
  • Speaker training

This report examines medical education budget and staffing resources, as well as activities, trends, and event planning approaches. It highlights new, exciting ways that teams are elevating the value of medical education.

For more information about Cutting Edge Information's medical affairs and medical education industry research, visit

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Elio Evangelista
Senior Director of Commercialization
Cutting Edge Information

Medical Education Team Obligations Based on Region