Q: What is considered commercial vs. non-commercial support of CME activities?
A: Commercial support is any funding, direct or in-kind, that is given to a course from a commercial interest. The ACCME’s definition of a commercial interest is any entity producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing health care goods or services consumed by, or used on, patients (i.e. pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers).
Non-commercial support is funding from any organization, foundation, or individual who does not produce, market, re-sell, or distribute health care goods or services consumed be, or used on, patients (i.e. NIH, non-profit foundations, etc.).
Both commercial and non-commercial support can be given in two ways: direct and in-kind.
Direct: A financial donation in the form of an educational grant; monetary donation.
In-Kind: The use of donated equipment, supplies, space, specimen, or services. For durable equipment, this includes the use of equipment that is to be returned after the completion of the course.
Q: Where can I find the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support?
A: Click here to download.
Q: What is a Letter of Agreement (LOA) and who signs them?
A: A letter of agreement is required for all educational grants and must be completed and signed by both the accredited provider (UC San Diego) and the commercial interest providing the commercial support prior to the start of the activity. Third parties and/or joint sponsors may also sign the written agreement but may not sign it instead of the accredited provider. Note: all LOAs, once fully executed, must be returned to UC San Diego CME.
Q: Do we have to use UC San Diego’s Letter of Agreement, or can we use the agreement provided by the grantor?
A: Either is acceptable. If using an agreement provided by the grantor then the written agreement must be in compliance with the following:
- Be between the accredited provider (UC San Diego) and the commercial supporter. This means that both the accredited provider and commercial supporter must be listed in the written agreement as the parties entering into the agreement for commercial support
- Itemizes how the provider (UC San Diego) will use the commercial support in the development and presentation of the CME activity
- Includes the name of the joint sponsor or third party that would be receiving and disbursing the funds (if applicable)
- Specifies the organizational name of the commercial interest(s) that supplied the funds
- Specifies what funds or in-kind services will be given by the commercial supporter to support the provider’s activity
- Be signed by both the accredited provider (UC San Diego) and the commercial interest providing the commercial support. Third parties and/or joint sponsors may also sign the written agreement but may notsign it instead of the accredited provider
- Be signed by all parties prior to the activity taking place
Q: Are electronic LOAs acceptable?
A: Yes, electronic signatures are acceptable as evidence that written agreements are signed.
Q: Can a commercial supporter require in the written agreement that unexpended funds be returned to the commercial supporter?
Q: Can a commercial supporter ask for an accounting of how their commercial support has been spent?
A: Yes. It is appropriate for an accounting of how the commercial support will be spent to be included in the written agreement between the provider and the commercial supporter. Most commercial supporters require reconciliation of funds post event.
Q: What is the difference between a supporter and a provider?
A: The provider of any UC San Diego accredited CME activity is always UC San Diego. Activities may be jointly provided by UC San Diego and other institutions, providing they meet requirements for Joint Providership.
Note: Commercial interests can never be sponsors of a CME activity and use of the word “sponsor” to refer to a commercial interest who provided direct or in-kind donations to an activity is not in compliance with ACCME standards. An appropriate term for any commercial interest, non-commercial interest, individual, foundation, etc. who has given a direct or in-kind donation to an activity is “supporter.”
Q: A company has given all the funding necessary to pay for a course. Since they are the only financial supporter of this activity, can I list them as the sponsor?
A: No. UC San Diego is always the sponsor of an accredited CME activity. Funders cannot be listed a sponsors, but may be referred to as supporters.
Q: A company gave us commercial support for an activity. Can we offer them complimentary exhibit space as a benefit of their grant support?
A: No. A company may not be given a complimentary booth, table or any other space to display their products or promote their company as a result of giving an educational grant. Grant support for CME activities must be used to cover the expenses associated with the educational activity. No benefits can be offered along with such support.
Q: What is the proper way to acknowledge commercial supporters in the hand-out materials?
A: Acknowledgement of commercial support should simply list the company name and may not include any product-specific advertising. “We acknowledge support from the following companies” is one way of doing this. An example can be found here.
Q: Do I have to acknowledge my commercial supporters in the hand-out materials?
A: Yes, in the interest of transparency and in order to be in compliance with the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support, you must acknowledge all commercial support to the audience.
Q: Can a company give both direct and in-kind support to a course?
A: Yes, they may give an educational grant for a flat, specified amount as well as donate equipment or other supplies (for example, for a laboratory-based course). The Letter of Agreement (LOA) must clearly specify both kinds of support. Separate LOAs for direct and in-kind support may be submitted, or both types may be included on the same agreement.