Impact of commercial support on continuing pharmacy education.

Jayne L. Smith*, Ronald M. Cervero, Thomas Valentine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: There is a serious debate over the involvement of the pharmaceutical industry in continuing education. Policies that govern the planning of continuing education for pharmacists center on the potential conflict of interest when there is commercial support for programs. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of commercial support on the provision and perceived outcomes of continuing pharmacy education. METHODS: A survey was administered online to a national sample of accredited providers of continuing pharmacy education, resulting in 134 responses. The 64-item survey was developed to measure the planning practices of these providers and their perceptions of the educational and noneducational consequences of commercial support for continuing education. RESULTS: One hundred thirty-four usable questionnaires (34%) were received from 386 leaders in pharmacy education. Approximately 86% of providers and 43% of programs received commercial support. Although the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education requires that providers review instructional content and materials for commercially supported programs before delivery, only 43% always did so. Commercial support was perceived to have consequences for provider organizations, pharmacists, and patients, such as increased cost and use of drugs and financial dependency of providers and participants on industry support. DISCUSSION: The results of our study lead to the conclusions that commercial support of continuing education is widespread, affects continuing education programs, and is perceived to have significant educational and noneducational consequences. The profession should ensure that continuing education guidelines are unambiguous related to specific practices that are allowable and unallowable when receiving commercial support. Future research should study the consequences of commercial support behaviorally by examining the effects on pharmacy professionals' practice and pharmaceutical care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-312
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


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