This excerpt taken from the WBMD 10-K filed Mar 16, 2006.
Changes in industry guidelines or government regulation could adversely affect our online CME offerings
Our CME activities are planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and Policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, or ACCME, which oversees providers of CME credit, and other applicable accreditation standards. In September 2004, ACCME revised its standards for commercial support of CME. The revised standards are intended to ensure, among other things, that CME activities of ACCME-accredited providers are independent of providers of healthcare goods and services that fund the development of CME. ACCME required accredited providers to implement these standards by May 2005. Implementation has required additional disclosures to CME participants about those in a position to influence content and other adjustments to the management and operations of our CME programs. We believe we have modified our procedures as appropriate to meet the revised standards. However, we cannot be certain whether these adjustments will ensure that we meet the new standards or predict whether ACCME may impose additional requirements.
In the event that ACCME concludes that we have not met its revised standards relating to CME, we would not be permitted to offer accredited ACCME activities to physicians and other healthcare professionals, and we may be required, instead, to use third parties to accredit such CME-related services on Medscape from WebMD. In addition, any failure to maintain our status as an accredited ACCME provider as a result of a failure to comply with existing or new ACCME standards could discourage potential sponsors from engaging in CME or education related activities with us, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.
CME activities may also be subject to government regulation by the FDA, the OIG, or HHS, the federal agency responsible for interpreting certain federal laws relating to healthcare, and state regulatory agencies.
During the past several years, educational programs, including CME, directed toward physicians have been subject to increased scrutiny to ensure that sponsors do not influence or control the content of the program. In response to governmental and industry initiatives, pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies have been developing and implementing internal controls and procedures that promote adherence to applicable regulations and requirements. In implementing these controls and procedures, different clients may
interpret the regulations and requirements differently and may implement procedures or requirements that vary from client to client. These controls and procedures:
In addition, future changes to existing regulations or accreditation standards, or to the internal compliance programs of potential clients, may further discourage or prohibit potential clients from engaging in educational activities with us, or may require us to make further changes in the way we offer or provide educational programs.