The Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) program has become an important tool of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in ensuring that the benefits of a given medical product outweigh the associated risks, and has enabled FDA to approve a number of products that might not otherwise have been made available for patient use. Since the implementation of the REMS program, however, concerns have been raised regarding its impact on patient access to products and the associated burden on providers and health care systems. In an effort to address these concerns—and as part of its commitments under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act reauthorization of 2012—FDA has undertaken efforts to standardize and improve the effectiveness of REMS, and to better integrate REMS programs into the health system. As part of this broader initiative, the Agency is currently assessing the feasibility of integrating accredited continuing education (CE) programs and activities into REMS programs that have been developed for a single drug.
Under a cooperative agreement with the FDA, the Center for Health Policy held an expert workshop on May 18 titled, “Incorporating Continuing Education into Single-Drug REMS: Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities”. This workshop provided an opportunity for pharmaceutical manufacturers, regulators, CE providers, accreditors, and other stakeholders to explore the ways that CE can be a valuable addition to the REMS toolkit, discuss potential barriers to the development and implementation of REMS-related CE for single products, and identify strategies for addressing those barriers.