Who We Are
ACRE - The Association of Clinical Researchers and Educators
The Association of Clinical Researchers and Educators (ACRE) is a new organization of medical professionals who recognize that appropriate physician-industry collaborations and relationships benefit patients and advance science. ACRE provides a forum for like-minded physicians and industry partners to further such collaborations, and to advocate on behalf of better patient care. A non-profit professional organization, ACRE is lead by a steering committee of physicians from major medical institutions including Harvard Medical School, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Stanford University, New York University School of Medicine, The Mayo Clinic Cancer Center and others.
ACRE members seek to define and promote balanced policies at academic medical centers and within government, to enhance positive, well-managed partnerships. They also recognize that industry-physician relationships are critical to educating practitioners about new treatments and therapies. By informing public debate and professional understanding, ACRE encourages new investigators and clinical trials that benefit patients by advancing medical knowledge.
ACRE supports the silent majority of professionals engaged in clinical service, medical education, and medical innovation. Together, they can engage the small number of well-organized and well-funded activists who oppose collaboration and partnering.
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The Anti-Industry Movement
The anti-industry movement initially began by pandering to archaic notions of professionalism rooted in pre-scientific medicine and contempt for business and trade. In recent years, members of the movement have successfully created a damaging public perception of industry by ignoring the benefits of partnering, demonizing the pharmaceutical industry, and focusing negative media attention on a small number of adverse events related to clinical trials.
Through its tactical skill, the anti-industry movement gathered media credibility when medical professionals and industry partners conceded their initial target of physician gifts and meals. In an effort to tactfully yield to potential accusations of conflicts of interest, industry and physician representatives implicitly admitted to an “ethics” problem –which only served to justify the movement’s further sanitizing of medicine from commercial influence.
The movement’s success also lies in the fixation of physicians with service, education, and innovation, who abdicate policy authority to others at their own detriment. Leaders in the medical community caught in the crossfire between the critics, the media and demagogue politicians, care more about avoiding attention from Senator Grassley and The New York Times than about supporting industry or proactively engaging them on policy decisions.
As a result, the anti-industry movement has succeeded in provoking medical leaders to impose increasingly onerous regulations on physicians and researchers. These rules include substantial disclosure, and censorship on writing, speaking or advising. In addition, there are restrictions on physician-industry associations, actions, and rewards. These policies have no basis in empiric fact and provide no benefits for patient care. In fact, such regulations only serve to decrease medical education and innovation, and will eventually have a negative effect on patient health.
Opportunities for ACRE
ACRE members seek to neutralize this negative movement that is disrespectful to physicians and industry alike. But beyond this, ACRE exists to proactively engage policymakers to not only allow, but to enhance physician-industry relationships and to emphasize the value and necessity of these valuable collaborations.
There is much evidence to support the social good provided by industry, as well as many unique and successful collaborations between industry and the medical community. Likewise, there are many opportunities to optimize medical progress through improved physician training. There is also support in the hidden majority of physicians, medical leaders, and policymakers to reverse policies that curtail interactions between industry and physicians, educators and researchers.
The time is now. Working physicians are becoming aware of the negative personal effects of the Massachusetts State regulations. Proposed bans on product-based (promotional) speaking will directly affect physicians’ livelihood, while the language embedded in the regulations present the potential for confusion, embarrassment, and possible litigation.
This grass roots awakening is consistent with the interest emerging in ACRE and defines the topics proposed for ACRE’s Charter Meeting and Conference which was held on Thursday, July 23, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. See the meeting agenda here.
Please join us and be heard.